Waterford demonstrated their All-Ireland credentials with a scintillating 1-21 to 0-17 victory over Clare at Semple Stadium.
The win fires Na Deise into the Munster final, where they will face either Tipperary or Limerick next month, but Waterford will surely have even bigger ambitions than a provincial crown this summer after brilliantly eclipsing a Clare side that defeated them in a replayed national hurling league final four weeks ago.
Today, Davy Fitzgerald's side - who never led - were second best in all departments, accruing a string of uncharacteristic wides as their Munster woes continued (one win in five years) and they fell into the Qualifiers again. With Kevin Moran, Austin Gleeson and Maurice Shanahan all exceptional, Waterford were the worthiest of winners, while Clare flopped on the big stage.
Shanahan's third-minute goal helped the victors take a four-point lead into the interval, 1-9 to 0-8, with both sides posting a series of poor wides before the break in the suffocating heat.
Derek McGrath's charges made a dream start when Shanahan poked the loose sliothar to the net to make it 1-1 to no score, with Gleeson having opened the scoring from distance.
The Banner were level by the 14th minute thanks to points from Conor McGrath (2), Conor Cleary and Colm Galvin; an exchange between Deise captain Kevin Moran and Podge Collins ensured it remained all-square after 15 minutes, 1-2 to 0-5.
Gleeson played a clever one-two from a sideline cut before brilliantly firing over a stunning point from the left wing; Tony Kelly replied in kind with a terrific solo point; but Shanahan and Darragh Fives struck inside 30 seconds to leave their side ahead by two with twelve minutes left before the break, 1-5 to 0-6 - a lead that would not be relinquished.
Pauric Mahony clipped over a dubious free after Collins had halved the deficit and teenager Shane Bennett drilled over a sensational solo point on the run for Waterford following points at either end from John Conlon and Gleeson.
A second converted Mahony free - another very debatable one - deep into added time assured the beaten league finalists of a four-point interval cushion.
Two minutes after the restart, Mahony added a sumptuous point from play; the No.20's third successive score arrived soon after from a free in front of the posts; daylight started to appear between the teams when Gleeson raided forward to bag a great solo point - 1-12 to 0-8 after 39 minutes!
McGrath (free) had his point cancelled out by wing back Philip Mahony, who sent over a beauty from out the field but opposing wing back Brendan Bugler replied in kind. A tap-over Mahony free restored the winners' seven-point cushion.
Substitute Colin Ryan and Pauric Mahony swapped frees before the Banner started to briefly kick back with points from David Fitzgerald, David Reidy and Cathal O'Connell.
Ryan's second point came from play but prior to that Na Deise had registered two of their own through Gleeson - with a delightful sideline cut - and Moran. Passing the hour mark, the gap was five points, 1-17 to 0-15.
Moran helped himself to another point after great work from Shanahan and the outstanding Gleeson smashed over a fabulous point from deep inside his own half in the 68th minute before Shanahan notched the score that left eight between the teams.
An O'Connell brace put some respectability on the scoreboard but Waterford replacement Jake Dillon clipped over the last score on a famous day for Waterford hurling as the Suirsiders marched into the provincial final and also assured themselves of a place in the All-Ireland series.
Waterford - S O'Keeffe; B Coughlan, N Connors, S Fives; D Fives (0-1), T de Burca, Philip Mahony (0-1); J Barron, K Moran (0-3); M Walsh, Pauric Mahony (0-6, 5f), Shane Bennett (0-1); A Gleeson (0-6, 1sl), M Shanahan (1-2), P Curran. Subs: T Devine for Shane Bennett, J Dillon (0-1) for P Curran, B O'Halloran for Pauric Mahony, C Dunford for M Shanahan, Stephen Bennett for M Walsh.
Clare - P Kelly; C Dillon, P O'Connor, C Cleary (0-1); O O'Brien, D Reidy (0-1), B Bugler (0-1); D Fitzgerald (0-1), C Galvin (0-1); P Collins (0-2), T Kelly (0-1), C McGrath (0-3, 2f); D Honan, J Conlon (0-1), S O'Donnell. Subs: C Ryan (0-2, 1'65) for D Honan, C O'Connell (0-3, 2f) for C McGrath, S Golden for D Fitzgerald, A Shanagher for P Collins, A Cunningham for C Galvin.
Referee - J Owens.Tweet