Curran leads from front in final cruise for Déise
Waterford 5-15 Galway 0-14
Seán Power's Waterford romped to Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland Under 21 hurling glory at Semple Stadium yesterday evening.
A talented bunch of young guns secured the county's first All-Ireland title in this grade since 1992 - on the night when the James Nowlan Cup was presented for the first time.
The new silverware replaced the Cross of Cashel Cup, presented for the last time to 2015 winners Limerick, and from a long way out it was clear that Waterford's name would be the first etched on the trophy.
In front of 14,410 spectators, Waterford bridged a 24-year gap with 16 points to spare, as captain Patrick Curran led by example with a massive haul of 1-9.
Galway, who were well adrift at half-time, did rally with a run of five unanswered points after the break but any faint hopes of a revival were snuffed out by Waterford's fourth goal. Eleven minutes from time, Stephen Bennett played a superb ball from the left touchline into the path of his brother Shane, who touched it home from close range.
Waterford may not have hit the high notes in the second half but they got what they came for and their night ended in brilliant fashion when Stephen Bennett crashed home a superb second goal.
It was an effort to grace any occasion as Bennett outfielded Declan Cronin to fetch Austin Gleeson's sideline ball, turned and found the opposite top corner in the blink of an eye.
At half-time, Waterford were 3-10 to 0-6 clear and this game was done and dusted.
It was the third time in the first half they'd led by 13 points and while Galway did appear to settle for a spell after conceding a goal after 40 seconds to DJ Foran, they were soon chasing shadows.
Captain Brian Molloy was the one shining light for Galway in the first half but Waterford were doing pretty much as they pleased, playing with the aid of the breeze towards the Killinan End. Foran scorched through for a superb opening goal and while Galway clawed back to within two points by the tenth minute, a yawning chasm soon began to emerge.
Curran cracked home a second Waterford goal in the 12th minute, Foran turning provider this time, and the Déise were 2-3 to 0-3 clear. Two minutes later, an audacious Curran handpass picked out Stephen Bennett and while goalkeeper Cathal Tuohy got a stick to his thunderous drive, the sliotar flew into the net.
Within 14 minutes, Waterford had registered three goals and this was as bad a start for Galway as their 2010 final loss to Tipperary. Six years ago, Galway were 0-2 to 3-4 down within 15 minutes. Last night, they trailed by 0-3 to 3-4 at that juncture.
Galway included senior star Conor Whelan from the start but the Kinvara forward struggled to impose himself after carrying a serious shoulder injury into the game.
Molloy's five first half points were token resistance as the Tribesmen managed just three points from play before the break.
Shortly after Waterford's third goal, Galway abandoned their conventional man-on-man formation and went with last year's All-Ireland minor-winning captain Seán Loftus in the sweeper role - but the horse had bolted by then.
Scorers - Waterford: P Curran 1-9 (6f), Stephen Bennett 2-0, Shane Bennett 1-1, DJ Foran 1-0, A Gleeson (1f) & M Kearney 0-2 each, T Devine 0-1. Galway: B Molloy 0-6 (3f), É Burke 0-3, S Linnane & C Whelan 0-2 each, K McHugo 0-1
Waterford: J Henley; W Hahessy, C Gleeson, D Lyons; M Harney, A Gleeson, C Prunty; M O'Brien, Shane Bennett; C Roche, T Devine, DJ Foran; M Kearney, Stephen Bennett, P Curran. Subs: A Farrell for Devine (57), D Ryan for Lyons (58), B O'Keeffe for Harney (60), B Whelan for Hahessy (60+1), P Hogan for Shane Bennett (60+2)
Galway: C Tuohy; C Jennings, D O'Donoghue, D Cronin; V Doyle, S Cooney, S Loftus; D Nevin, D Dolan; K McHugo, B Molloy, S Linnane; T Monaghan, C Whelan, É Burke. Subs: E Brannigan for Monaghan (h-t), J Grealish for McHugo (42), F Burke for Nevin (55), C Burke for Linnane (60), A Morrissey for Dolan (60).
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny)
Sunday Indo Sport