Waterford cruised into the next phase of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship qualifiers by beating hosts Westmeath by 3-22 to 0-14 in Mullingar this evening.
But the Déise did not have it all their own way. The winning margin was a harsh judgement on the Lakesiders who held the odds-on favourites at 0-10 to 1-07 at half-time, with Brendan Murtagh and Derek McNicholas impressing.
But goals from Brian O'Sullivan and the superb Maurice Shanahan (1-09) saw the Munster outfit through, as they outclassed Brian Hanley's gallant charges after the restart.
Shanahan's scoring haul and a brace of goals from Brian O'Sullivan were the key ingredients in this Cusack Park win, the visitors recovering their poise after McNicholas, John Shaw, Eoin Price and Brendan Murtagh all contributed to Westmeath's brave bid in the first half.
Pound for pound, the hosts looked like the better team at the interval with wasteful Waterford heavily reliant on Shanahan, and parity secured only by virtue of O'Sullivan's first goal.
But Michael Ryan's troops enjoyed the benefit of a strong breeze after the restart and set about dismantling Westmeath's resistance, outscoring the home side by 1-11 to 0-01 in the space of 22 minutes.
Shanahan, O'Sullivan, Jake Dillon and Seamus Prendergast dominated the scoring, before substitute Gavin O'Brien set up O'Sullivan for his second goal on 57 minutes, making it 2-18 to 0-11.
Brendan Murtagh responded with a fine point for the midlanders, but a cameo from veteran Tony Browne lifted the travelling Waterford support as the Déise applied the finishing touches.
Browne, who turns 40 in a few days, did not score, but his county closed out the game with points from O'Sullivan, Kevin Moran, Shane Fives and substitute Jamie Barron.
Shanahan then put the cherry on top of a satisfying day at the office, finding the net with a stoppage time rebound after Westmeath's Peter Collins did well to save a fierce shot from Brian O'Sullivan.
WESTMEATH: Peter Collins; Liam Varley, Tommy Gallagher, Paul Fennell; David Fennell, Alan McGrath, Adam Price; Eoin Price (0-02), Robbie Greville; Brendan Murtagh (0-03), John Shaw (0-01), Derek McNicholas (0-06, 0-05f); Niall O'Brien, Joey Boyle, Aonghus Clarke (0-01).
Subs used: Tommy Doyle (0-01) for Shaw (38 mins, inj), Gary Greville for Gallagher (49), Aaron Craig for O'Brien (65), Shane Power for R Greville (65), Thomas Egan for Varley (66).
WATERFORD: Stephen O'Keeffe; Shane Fives (0-01), Liam Lawlor, Noel Connors; Darragh Fives (0-01), Michael 'Brick' Walsh, Ray Barry; Richie Foley, Kevin Moran (0-02); Maurice Shanahan (1-09, 0-05f), Pauric Mahony, Shane O'Sullivan (0-01); Jake Dillon (0-02), Seamus Prendergast (0-03), Brian O'Sullivan (2-02).
Subs used: Gavin O'Brien for Mahony (53 mins), Eddie Barrett for D Fives (55), Dean Twomey for Foley (57), Tony Browne for Barry (60), Jamie Barron (0-01) for Dillon (63).
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork)
Highlights and analysis of all the weekend’s action on The Sunday Game from 21:00 on Sunday 30 June on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only). Expert and fan reaction on Take Your Point from 18:00 on Sunday 30 June on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).