Wall and Ryan's Ballymac double act floors Lilywhites
Waterford 3-14 Kildare 0-10
Pat Sullivan's superb Waterford hammered Kildare by 13 points at Croke Park to claim a stunning victory in yesterday's curtain-raiser.
The Déise, beaten finalists in 2010 and 2012, finally regained senior championship status as Kildare, who regraded to the intermediate ranks this year, suffered a heavy defeat.
A close encounter had been anticipated at GAA headquarters but Waterford had far too much power, pace and scoring ability for their opponents to cope with.
And with the benefit of hindsight, Kildare's decision to drop down from senior this year appears to have been a wise one, at a time of transition with many players short on experience of the big occasion.
Aileen Wall scored 2-2 to help secure the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup for Waterford and there was a magnificent contribution from evergreen Michelle Ryan off the bench.
Ryan, daughter of Westmeath senior hurling manager Michael, scored 1-3 after coming on, including a killer goal that quelled any hopes of a Kildare revival.
In a miserable finish for Kildare, they also lost the services of captain Aisling Holton, who was yellow-carded and sin-binned.
Waterford were fully merited winners, despite falling behind to Maria Moolick's point with just 15 seconds on the clock. Wall soon equalised and when Sinéad Ryan tapped over a free in the eighth minute, Waterford led from there all the way to the finish.
Wall's brilliant goal in the 12th minute opened up a 1-3 to 0-2 lead, as the Ballymacarbry player finished brilliantly after cutting in from the right touchline.
At half-time, Waterford were 1-9 to 0-5 clear and while Kildare did threaten a second-half comeback, they were kept comfortably at arm's length by a resolute Déise defence.
Karen McGrath earned the player of the match award and although she was named at full-back, the Ballymacarbry stalwart played out around midfield.
The closest Kildare got to Waterford in the second half was five points on two occasions but Ryan's goal put the end result beyond any doubt.
Kildare did have the chance to score an elusive goal but Katie Hannon denied Róisín Byrne.
Waterford had excellent displays on the day from a number of players and while Wall and Ryan might claim the headlines, Maria Delahunty's six points in the first half alone were crucial.
Player of the Match: Aileen Wall (Waterford)
Scorers - Waterford: A Wall 2-2, M Ryan 1-3, M Delahunty 0-6 (3f), S Ryan 0-2 (1f), E Power 0-1. Kildare: M Moolick & R Byrne (1f) 0-3 each, E Dowling 0-2, G Clifford & M McKenna 0-1 each.
WATERFORD - K Hannon; M Wall, M McGrath, L Wall; E Power, M Dunford, L Ryan; K McGrath, E Murray; C McGrath, M Foley, G Kenneally; M Delahunty, S Ryan, A Wall. Subs: M Ryan for Foley (31), H Landers for S Ryan (52), A Murray for C McGrath (55), N Fennell for L Ryan (56), N Dunphy for M Wall (58).
KILDARE - R McGuirk; T Hallinan, A Savage, R Reidy; P Keatley, A Curley, L Furey; A Holton, J Timmins; E Connolly, R Byrne, G Clifford; E Dowling, M Moolick, T Duggan. Subs: M McKenna for Clifford (29), R Cribbin for Furey (39), N Mulhall for Dowling (44), M Price for Keatley (55).
Ref - M Kenny (Mayo)