An injury-time Gavin O'Brien point secured Waterford this 0-24 to 1-21 draw with Galway at Walsh Park.
The hosts were already through to the last eight of the competition - where they will face Wexford - while the result in Thurles today meant the Tribe needed a landslide victory to have any chance of overhauling Tipperary in the battle for fourth place.
As things transpired, a second successive draw sees the westerners finish fifth from six, which means they will face bottom side Cork in the 1A/1B relegation play-off in two weeks.
A crowd of 5,029 attended this game and Waterford boss Derek McGrath made no fewer than ten changes to the side beaten by Dublin last weekend. He handed out three league debuts today and was also able to introduce Pauric Mahony late on for his first appearance since breaking his leg twelve month ago.
Niall Burke's rocket to the roof of the net two minutes before the break handed the Tribesmen a 1-10 to 0-12 interval lead, with Joe Canning slotting four first-half points for the visitors.
But Na Desie fought back in the third quarter to lead by 0-19 to 1-13, with the outstanding Shane Bennett notching five from play to that stage and Maurice Shanahan leaving three between the teams with his eighth score and first from play.
A late Galway surge culminated in points from Cathal Mannion (2), substitute Conor Whelan and inspirational captain David Burke as Micheal Donoghue's men led by 1-21 to 0-23 with two minutes left. But O'Brien had the last say for the holders deep into added time.
Waterford - I O'Regan; C Gleeson, S McNulty, S Roche; K Moran, T De Burca, G O'Brien (0-1); A Gleeson, S O'Sullivan; S Bennett (0-6), T Ryan (0-1), T Devine (0-1); B O'Halloran (0-3), M Shanahan (0-9, 8f), C Roche (0-1). Subs: M Kearney (0-2) for A Gleeson, J Dillon for C Roche, Philip Mahony for S O'Sullivan, Pauric Mahony for T Ryan.
Galway - J Skehill; P Hoban, J Hanbury, F Moore; A Tuohy, David Burke (0-2), D Collins; A Harte (0-1), D Glennon (0-2); J Canning (0-6, 4f), N Burke (1-3), J Flynn (0-1); C Mannion (0-2), E Burke (0-2), A Smith. Subs: R Burke for P Hoban, C Whelan (0-2) for A Smith, R Cummins for E Burke, S Moloney for J Flynn.
Referee - B Gavin.Tweet