A sensational first-half of hurling from Liam Cahill’s Déise laid the foundation - and provided the necessary buffer in the face of Galway’s late charge - for Waterford’s progress to the All-Ireland quarter-final.
A truly superb first-half effort saw nine scorers contribute to a 1-18 to 0-9 interval lead and even though Waterford lost Conor Gleeson to a straight red card before the second-half got underway for an off the ball incident, this numerical disadvantage did not throw Waterford off their stride as they had extended their lead by four to 16 when referee Sean Stack whistled for the second water break.
The final quarter, though, was owned by Galway who outscored their opponents by 1-8 to 0-1 between the resumption of play and the 70-minute mark to cut the deficit to three, 1-26 to 2-20.
The two Galway goals during this comeback were supplied by Cathal Mannion and sub Jason Flynn, the latter’s effort arriving just as the board went up to indicate there would be seven additional minutes.
The crowd of 4,400 strapped themselves in for a grandstand finish in Thurles.
Waterford sub Michael Kiely ended a 13-minute wait for a Waterford score two minutes into injury-time, with Stephen Bennett adding a brace thereafter to shove their lead back out to six.
Once again came Galway, Flynn rattling home his second goal and Galway’s third to again make it a one-score game.
No closer could they come, however, Stephen Bennett bringing his personal tally into double digit territory to see Waterford through this second-round qualifier with four to spare.
So crucial were Waterford’s four second-half injury-time points, an almost unthinkable fact when you consider they were 16 in front with 16 minutes of regulation time remaining.
Dominant from the off, Waterford’s supremacy was not reflected in the 0-9 to 0-7 scoreline at the first water break. It was, in all honesty, a most false scoreline.
The Déise rectified this in the second quarter, a period which they won by 1-9 to 0-2. Passage after passage of sublime, power-packed hurling from Liam Cahill’s charges delivered seven unanswered points between the 13th and 25th minute to move Waterford into a double scores 0-14 to 0-7 advantage. Their opponents quite simply had no answer to Waterford’s pace, their direct running in the middle third, and the sheer intensity of their play.
Points from Joe Canning (free) and Conor Whelan sandwiched a Patrick Curran effort at the other end following a poor Conor Cooney pass to bring Galway back within six on 27 minutes, but there was just no let up from Waterford who hit another 1-3 without reply to position themselves 12 clear turning around for the second-half.
Waterford’s half-back line of Calum Lyons (0-2), Shane Bennett (0-1), and Kieran Bennett (0-2) scored more from play in the first-half than the four white flags managed by Galway across the opening 35 minutes.
The half-back trio were among nine Waterford players to find the target in the opening half, with Jamie Barron in his first championship start of the summer contributing a pair of white flags. Dessie Hutchinson was the sole member of their starting front six not to write his name on the scoresheet but an amount of assist work did he do.
Galway’s half-time report made for exceptionally grim reading. The Tribesmen hit just two points from the 12th minute onwards, one of those a free.
Their midfield and half-forward line were blown off the field, with Sean Loftus called ashore on 26 minutes.
The ploy of a two-man inside line in no way worked, with the quality of the limited possession filtering through to Joe Canning and Brian Concannon of the poorest quality. The former’s 0-9 haul saw him overtake Henry Shefflin as hurling’s all-time championship scorer.
But this was Waterford’s day. After two below-par performances, they are purring just at the right time.
Stephen Bennett (0-10, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ‘65); J Fagan (1-2); J Barron (0-4); A Gleeson (0-3, 0-1 sc); C Lyons, K Bennett, J Prendergast, P Curran (0-2 each); Shane Bennett, P Hogan, M Kiely (0-1 each).
J Canning (0-9, 0-8 frees); J Flynn (2-1); C Mannion (1-0); C Whelan (0-3); E Niland (0-2); C Cooney, B Concannon, J Cooney, J Coen, A Tuohey (0-1 each).
S O’Brien; C Gleeson, C Prunty, I Kenny; C Lyons, Shane Bennett, K Bennett; J Barron, P Hogan; P Curran, Stephen Bennett, J Prendergast; D Hutchinson, A Gleeson, J Fagan.
M Kiely for Curran (58); D Lyons for Hogan (60); B Power for Prendergast (64); C Dunford for Fagan (68); S McNulty for Hutchinson (74).
D Fahy; S Cooney, G McInerney, D Morrissey; P Mannion, D Burke, A Harte; S Loftus, C Mannion; J Cooney, C Whelan, C Cooney; S Linnane, J Canning, B Concannon.
J Coen for Loftus (26 mins); A Tuohey for Linnane (29, inj); E Niland for C Cooney (46); J Fitzpatrick for Morrissey (52, inj); J Flynn for J Cooney (57).
S Stack (Dublin).