Determined Dublin held firm in testing circumstances at Parnell Park to record their most significant win of the Mattie Kenny era.
Trailing by a point with 70 minutes on the clock, the hosts outscored the 2017 All-Ireland runners-up by 0-4 to 0-1 in the closing minutes with Oisin O’Rorke grabbing all of those Dublin scores.
Waterford still had an opportunity to win it at the death when they were awarded a penalty but Stephen Bennett, with 2-7 to his credit, was unable to convert as goalkeeper Alan Nolan got down to block the shot.
It was literally the last action of a thrilling game and Nolan was delighted to have the final say after dropping a clanger early on for Waterford’s first goal.
Ironically, that came from the hurl of Bennett in the fourth minute when his miscued long-range free somehow evaded Nolan in goals.
Waterford got three first-half goals in total to keep themselves in a game they were largely outplayed in until they finally came good in the second-half.
Former All-Star Danny Sutcliffe was terrific for Dublin, scoring four points and getting through so much good work, in attack initially and then in defence in the second-half as the 2011 league champions tried to repel the Waterford fightback.
Dublin led 0-14 to 3-3 at the break with Bennett’s first goal for Waterford added to by majors from Deise colleagues Thomas Ryan and Shane Bennett.
Dublin added points after the restart through O’Rorke and the powerful John Hetherton who troubled Waterford’s half-back line with his aerial ability.
But Waterford took off from there and outscored the Dubs by 0-8 to 1-1 in the following 13 minutes or so – Dublin’s goal coming from Liam Rushe – to level the game.
The quality improved in the closing period as both sides chased the win and it was level on three more occasions until O’Rorke grabbed those series of points to nudge Dublin clear.
Waterford won their penalty seven minutes into stoppage time when Darragh O’Connell was adjudged to have fouled Shane Bennett. O’Connell was shown a yellow card at first before referee Fergal Horgan returned to the Cuala player and brandished a red.
It was a blow to Dublin but Nolan saved them with that brilliant penalty save from Bennett.
Dublin scorers: O O’Rorke 0-11 (0-8f, 0-1 65), L Rushe 1-1, E Dillon, D Sutcliffe 0-4, C Crummey, J Hetherton 0-2, S Barrett, F Whitely 0-1.
Waterford scorers: Stephen Bennett 2-7 (1-7f), Shane Bennett 1-2, T Ryan 1-1, J Barron, K Moran 0-2, J Prendergast 0-1.
Dublin: A Nolan; D O’Connell, E O’Donnell, P Smyth; C Crummey, S Moran, S Barrett; D Gray, R McBride; C Conway, D Sutcliffe, E Dillon; John Hetherton, L Rushe, O O’Rorke.
Subs: T Connolly for Barrett 49, S Treacy for Gray 49, J Malone for McBride 53, F Whitely for Treacy 56, D Burke for Conway 64,
Waterford: B Nolan; S McNulty, C Prunty, N Connors; C Lyons, A Gleeson, K Moran; J Barron, M O’Brien; J Prendergast, S Roche, DJ Foran; Sahne Bennett, Stephen Bennett, t Ryan.
Subs: M Walsh for Foran h/t, M Keaney for O’Brien h/t, Philip Mahony for Lyons 53, J Henley for Prunty 58, Pauric Mahony for Prendergast 61.
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).