Stephen Bennett's 32nd minute goal from a long-range free proved a major turning point as14-man Waterford came from behind to trump Galway at Nowlan Park and set up an Allianz Hurling League final showdown with All-Ireland champions Limerick at Croke Park next Sunday.
Bennett's effort deceived Galway 'keeper Fergal Flannery and ended up in the net, much to the surprise and delight of the Waterford supporters in the 13,227 crowd. It left the Deise just two points adrift at the interval, 1-7 to 0-12, and they took the lead for the first time through full back Calum Lyons in the 61st minute, despite losing Mikey Kearney to a second yellow card in the 55th minute.
Galway's misery was compounded by the sight of Joe Canning - who posted 0-7 (0-6 from frees) - being stretchered off in injury-time after a heavy collision with Kevin Moran.
The Tribesmen came racing out of the blocks to lead by 0-5 to 0-1 after four minutes, with Davy Glennon accounting for two of their early points. Scores from Stephen Bennett, Pauric Mahony and Kearney at the other end saw Waterford narrow the gap to two points, 0-6 to 0-8, after 25 minutes, but Galway replied with three in-a-row to take control once again.
However, a quick 1-1 by Bennett from placed balls left the minimum in it before Canning's third point gave the Westerners' a two-point cushion at the break.
The Deise upped the ante after the restart and eventually overhauled Galway thanks to scores from Austin Gleeson, Tommy Ryan, Jamie Barron, Stephen Bennett, Peter Hogan and Lyons.
After Lyons had edged them in front, Mahony tagged on a late brace to send Pauric Fanning's men through to the decider.
Waterford - S O’Keeffe; S McNulty, C Lyons (0-1), N Connors; Philip Mahony, T de Burca, K Moran; J Barron (0-2), C Dunford; A Gleeson (0-1), M Kearney (0-1), Pauric Mahony (0-3); T Ryan (0-1), Stephen Bennett (1-7, 1-6f), Shane Bennett. Subs: J Prendergast (0-1) for C Dunford, P Hogan (0-1) for T Ryan, C Roche for T de Burca, DJ Foran for A Gleeson.
Galway - F Flannery; R Burke, G McInerney, D Morrissey; P Killeen, P Mannion, A Harte; C Mannion (0-4), K Hussey (0-1); J Coen (0-1), C Whelan (0-1), J Canning (0-7, 5f); D Glennon (0-3), N Burke, B Concannon (0-1). Subs: J Grealish for D Morrissey, J Flynn (0-1f) for N Burke, T Haran for J Coen, J Mannion for J Canning, J Hanbury for P Killeen.
Referee - P O’Dwyer.Tweet