Waterford are back into the National Hurling League final for the first time since 2016 after a two-point victory over Galway.
Pauric Fanning’s men hit seven points in-a-row from the 50th to 75th minute to go from three points behind to lead by four while already then in injury time.
Waterford completely dominated this period despite being down to 14 men with Mikey Kearney seeing red for a second bookable offense after 53 minutes.
With the game heading to full-time and trailing just a goal 1(-18 to 0-18) Joe Canning broke onto to a loose ball 30m out and headed for goal. Kevin Moran, covering across his back-line, executed the last ditch tackle to dispossess Canning at the expense of a '65.
Canning was injured in the tackle and had to be removed from the field with the help of the medical staff. Pauric Mahony landed another point in injury time and despite late points form Davy Glennon and Jason Flynn there was no denying the men from the Crystal city’s passage to the final.
Galway the 2017 League and All-Ireland champions dominated the opening quarter on a dry but cold afternoon in front of 13,227 at Nowlan Park.
Gearóid McInerney and Padraic Mannion were excelling in defence while Cathal Mannion, Joe Canning and the lively Davy Glennon all found space to shoot fine points in the opening quarter.
The Tribesmen led by double scores (0-08 to 0-04) after 18 minutes and was good value for this advantage. Pauric Mahony, Stephen Bennett and Mikey Kearney landed points in succession for the Munster men to get back into the game.
Former All-Star goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe was called upon to bring off two outstanding saves to deny both Kevin Hussey and Joe Canning in the 25th and 27th minutes. Waterford, trailing by five points approaching the break had fortune smile on them when Stephen Bennett’s 34th minute free from his own half went all the way to the net.
This narrowed the margin to just two points as Galway led 0-11 to 1-6. Bennett and Canning exchanged free’s again with Galway leading by two as the teams headed to the dressing rooms.
When Cathal Mannion hit his fourth point of the game and Joe Canning struck his seventh in all, Galway were still leading by three points after 48 minutes.
Stephen Bennett began Waterford’s purple patch with a pointed free while substitute Peter Hogan pointed with his first touch to reduce the margin to the minimum. Another Bennett free levelled the game and then the outstanding Callum Lyons pointed from a rare sortie forward to put Waterford into the lead 1-15 to 0-17 for the first time in the game in the 60th minute.
Pauric Mahony (2) and Stephen Bennett added further points and not even the dismissal of Mikey Kearney could halt the Déise men’s momentum.
Galway wasted a number of good scoring chances before Canning’s late goal effort and injury-time points from Glennon and Flynn.
Waterford will now meet reigning All-Ireland champions Limerick in next Sunday’s league final.
Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe, Shane McNulty, Callum Lyons (0-1), Noel Connors, Philip Mahony, Tadhg de Búrca, Kevin Moran, Jamie Barron (0-2), Colin Dunford, Austin Gleeson (0-1), Mikey Kearney (0-1), Pauric Mahony (0-3), Thomas Ryan (0-1), Stephen Bennett (1-7, 1-6f), Shane Bennett.
Subs: Jack Prendergast (0-1) for Colin Dunford (ht), Peter Hogan (0-1) for Thomas Ryan (50m), Colm Roche for Tadhg de Búrca (60m), D.J. Foran for Austin Gleeson (70m),
Galway: Fergal Flannery, Ronan Burke, Gearoid McInerney, Darren Morrissey, Paul Killeen, Padraic Mannion, Aidan Harte , Cathal Mannion (0-4), Kevin Hussey (0-1), Johnny Coen (0-1), Conor Whelan (0-1), Joe Canning (0-7, 0-5f), Davy Glennon (0-3), Niall Burke, Brian Concannon (0-1).
Subs: Jack Grealish for Darren Morrissey (45m), Jason Flynn (0-1f) for Niall Burke (55m), Tadhg Haran for Johnny Coen (68m), Jarlath Mannion for Joe Canning (72m), John Hanbury for Paul Killeen (77m).
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).