With Clare having dominated the opening half and gone in at the break leading 0-7 to 0-5, this game at Miltown Malbay turned when Waterford corner-forward Darren Guiry fired home the only goal in the 49th minute.
With 10 minutes to go to the break, Waterford edged in front with a Paul Whyte point, but three unanswered Clare scores from Daivd Tubridy (2) and Martin McMahon ensured a two-point half-time advantage.
Waterford came thundering back, however, as points from Robert Aherne (2) and Whyte drew them level before Guiry's goal. Clare did have their chances, but five wides in the final nine minutes from the Clare attack prompted manager Mick O'Dwyer to remark "when you don't take your chances you're not entitled to win."
Tubridy did have a chance to level at the death but his free from the sideline on the '45' sailed wide of the posts.
Man of the Match: S Aherne (Waterford)
Scorers – Waterford: D Guiry 1-1, P Whyte 0-3 (2f), R Aherne 0-2f, S Aherne, P Hurney, C McGrath 0-1 each. Clare: D Tubridy 0-5 (3f), S McGrath 0-2, C O'Connor, A Clohessy, C Dunning, M McMahon 0-1 each.
Waterford – S Enright 7; C Phelan 7, S Prendergast 7, J Hurney 7; P Whyte 8, M O'Gorman 7, T Grey 6; S Aherne 9, T Prendergast 8; C McGrath 7, P Hurney 7, S Briggs (capt) 8; D Guiry 8, R Aherne 8, L Ó'Lionáin 7. Subs: G Nugent for McGrath (60), R Cahill for J Hurney (63), D Hallahan for Guiry (68).
Clare – J Hayes 7; L Healy 7, S McNelis 7, E Coughlan 8; D Callinan 7, G Kelly 7, M McMahon 8; G Brennan (capt) 7, C O'Connor 7; C Dunning 7, A Clohessy 7,S McGrath 7; M McCarthy 6, N Kelly 6, D Tubridy 7. Subs: G Quinlan 7 for Kelly (45), J Keane for McGrath (64).
Ref –P O'Sullivan (Kerry)