Six second-half points from Nigel Dunne helped Offaly to collect their first championship win in four years at a sun-drenched Fraher Field.
They held a slender interval lead as Joey Veale's smashing goal gave Waterford hope of causing an upset. Tom McGlinchey's squad has been decimated with 14 departures since their successful McGrath Cup campaign and they only had 22 players togged out for this qualifier clash. They mustered a spirited first-half showing, but Offaly blitzed them by 1-11 to 0-2 in the second period.
In the searing afternoon heat, Offaly cruised five points up inside six minutes. Full-forward Dunne claimed two, with Graham Guilfoyle, Joseph O'Connor and Anton Sullivan also on target. They devoured Waterford kickouts in a devastating early scoring spurt.
Mark Ferncombe got the hosts on the scoreboard after eight minutes and that was swiftly followed by another from JJ Hutchinson. Guilfoyle and Bernard Allen restored Offaly's five-point lead and they spurned a handful of clear-cut chances to emphasise their dominance. After eight scoreless minutes, Allen fisted over the bar but Waterford hung in and midfielder Tommy Prendergast pegged a point back.
On 32 minutes, an end-to-end move involving Dean Crowley and Darren Guiry was finished smartly by Veale to make it 0-8 to 1-3. At the other end, William Mulhall's fine strike produced a great save from Sean Barron, who tipped the ball over the bar.
The introduction of Guiry gave Waterford a lift. Ferncombe and Patrick Hurney kicked points to leave McGlinchey's charges just a point in arrears at half-time, 0-9 to 1-5.
Division 4 champions Offaly rebounded from that setback and a purple patch of four unanswered points eased them clear. Persistent Waterford fouling was punished by the unerring Dunne. They also sent over a succession of long-distance scorchers through Johnny Moloney and Peter Cunningham. With five minutes remaining, Anton Sullivan's point effort slipped through the hands of Waterford goalkeeper Barron and over the line.
Scorers - Offaly: N Dunne 0-8 (4fs), A Sullivan 1-1, G Guilfoyle 0-3, B Allen 0-2, E Carroll, W Mulhall, J Moloney, J O'Connor, C McNamee, P Cunningham 0-1 each. Waterford: J Veale 1-1, M Ferncombe 0-2, JJ Hutchinson, L Lawlor, T Prendergast, P Hurney 0-1 each.
Offaly: A Mulhall; B Darby, P McConway, C Donohue; N Darby, J Moloney, J O'Connor; C McNamee, N Smith; P Cunningham, G Guilfoyle, A Sullivan; B Allen, N Dunne, W Mulhall. Subs: N Bracken for Mulhall (H-T, B-C), E Carroll for Allen (H-T), J Evans for Guilfoyle (62), N Geraghty for Smith (66), D Brady for B Darby (66), P McPadden for Moloney (71).
Waterford: S Barron; D Crowley, P Crowley, T Ó hUallacháin; S Briggs, P Whyte, S Prendergast; T Prendergast, C Guiry; JJ Hutchinson, M Ferncombe, M O'Halloran; L Lawlor, J Veale, P Hurney. Subs: D Guiry for Hutchinson (24), L Ó Lonáin for O'Halloran (47), C O'Keeffe for Hurney (51), M Curry for C Guiry (59), K Murphy for T Prendergast (66), J Curry for Veale (66).
Referee: F Kelly (Longford)
Sunday Indo Sport