Clare exacted full revenge for last year's All-Ireland Quarter-Final exit when keeping Waterford at arm’s length to advance to the last four in Munster in Semple Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Leading from start to finish, such was Clare’s dominance that they could afford to hit more wides (22) than their opponents actually scored over the 70 minutes.
That superiority wasn’t fully reflected on the final scoreline as despite trailing by nine points by the midway and three-quarter marks, Waterford did get a bounce from their bench to inevitably rally coming down the final straight.
However, it was fitting that Tony Kelly would be the one to raid for an injury-time insurance point after another championship masterclass.
The 2020 All-Star's positioning at full-forward certainly seemed to unsettle Waterford’s gameplan from the outset as Kelly hit the first three points on Clare’s way to a 0-7 to 0-1 advantage by the 15th minute.
Chief resisters Stephen Bennett and Austin Gleeson did lower the arrears to four by the first water break and with Clare’s wide count entering double figures, Waterford actually got the deficit back to three by the 26th minute.
However, a Clare penalty only a minute later would provide the impetus for the Banner to restore a healthy cushion by the break as a foul on Aron Shanagher as he bore down on goal would see Tony Kelly fire the resulting placed ball to the bottom left corner of the net while also seeing corner-back Shane Fives sin-binned for the foul in the process.
Indeed, Clare took full advantage as they outscored their opponents by 1-4 to 0-1 in the last eight minutes, with captain John Conlon also inspirational from centre-back on their way to a 1-13 to 0-07 interval lead.
The third quarter was essentially a free-taking duel between Stephen Bennett and Tony Kelly as Clare matched anything that the Déise could throw at them to sustain their nine point cushion by the turn of the final quarter at 1-18 to 0-12.
To their credit, an uncharacteristically lacklustre Waterford never dropped their heads and thanks to some renewed energy from the bench, began to topple Clare’s advantage as the clock inexorably wound down. Indeed, substitutes Kieran Bennett, Patrick Curran, Neil Montgomery and Mikey Kearney all chipped in with points as Waterford got within three of the leaders by the 69th minute.
However, a relieving Tony Kelly point took his personal tally to 1-12 and provided the buffer to be able to withstand a Stephen Bennett 20 metre free on goal at the death.
Clare’s reward is a Munster Semi-Final against Tipperary in the LIT Gaelic Grounds next Sunday (3.45pm) while it’s all new territory of the scenic route for Liam Cahill and his Waterford side in the qualifiers, having contesting both the Munster and All-Ireland Finals in 2020.
Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Paul Flanagan, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes; Diarmuid Ryan (0-01), John Conlon, Paidi Fitzpatrick; Colm Galvin, Cathal Malone (0-01); Aidan McCarthy (0-03), David Reidy (0-02), Ryan Taylor (0-02); Aron Shanagher, Tony Kelly (1-12, 1-00 Pen, 0-07f), Ian Galvin (0-01).
Subs: David McInerney (Tulla) for Fitzpatrick (50), David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona) for I. Galvin (57), Mark Rodgers (Scariff) for Reidy (60), Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) for McCarthy (70)
Waterford: Billy Nolan; Conor Gleeson, Calum Lyons (0-01), Shane Fives; Shane McNulty, Iarlaith Daly, Austin Gleeson (0-05, 0-01f); Kevin Moran, Darragh Lyons; Jack Fagan, Peter Hogan, Jack Prendergast; Dessie Hutchison, Stephen Bennett (0-11, 0-09f), Shane Bennett.
Subs: Kieran Bennett (0-01) for Moran (33), Patrick Curran (0-01) for Fagan (44), Neil Montgomery (0-01) for Prendergast (46), Billy Power for D. Lyons (52), Mikey Kearney (0-01) for Hogan (62)
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)