GILES PHILLIPS led the way for Waterford as he led them to the promotion/relegation play-off final against Cork City.
An overhead kick from Cobh Ramblers substitute Matthew McKevitt leveled the game with two minutes remaining after Ronan Coughlan appeared to have put the Blues on the right track with his 36th goal of the season.
But Phillips’ 101st-minute winner from a Shane Griffin corner ensured Waterford reached the play-off decider for the third consecutive year, having lost to UCD the previous two years.
Blues boss Keith Long said: “I thought we deserved to win and should have won the game in normal time.”
“We had to win the game twice. We had long periods of possession where we were in control on a difficult pitch.
“You can see how the boys on both teams are pulling themselves up.
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“But we played most of the football and were the dominant team.
“It would have been kind of a travesty if we hadn’t gotten through.”
Former Cobh star Roy Keane was among the 2,626 crowd at Turner’s Cross as Waterford dominated the midfield duel led by Barry Baggley.
But they had to wait until the 47th minute to score.
Baggley’s powerful tackle would have impressed Keane and he was immediately back on his feet to fly the ball over the top to Coughlan.
The Killer made no mistake in sending Lee Steacy the wrong way with a disguised finish.
Bizarrely, Baggley was shown a red card in the 67th minute before referee David Dunne realized he had not given him a yellow card earlier in the game and reversed the sending off.
He was one of 14 players booked, as was Cobh manager Shane Keegan.
The Rams boss protested against the decision not to award his team a penalty for handball in the first half.
And Keegan said: “We have the mini screen on the touchline and I saw it was a penalty.”
“I would like to believe that this is not even an opinion, but a fact.
“But we had too good a season and too good a night to get caught up in a dispute over a referee’s decision. It would diminish our achievements.”
Keegan made five substitutions to change the game and three of them were involved in the unlikely equaliser.
Luke Desmond’s wayward shot was somehow kept alive by Alec Byrne and McKevitt produced an overhead kick that flopped over the line.
And Ramblers carried that momentum into overtime.
But former Galway United striker Wilson Waweru missed the target when given a great chance.
A super save from Steacy kept them alive as Darragh Power fed Dean McMenamy at the other end.
Then there was a successful one-two in which Waweru played into Byrne.
But the impressive goalkeeper Sam Sargeant was quick off the line and made a decisive save of his own.
This counter-attack saw Waterford win a corner and Griffin’s shot was fired off Phillips’ head and into the net.
And this time Cobh couldn’t find an appropriate answer.
The Blues now face Cork City in Friday’s final at Tallaght Stadium.
Kick-off is at 7.45pm at the Dublin 24 Stadium as Waterford look to avenge their 3-0 FAI Cup defeat to City earlier this season.
Barry Baggley (Waterford)
WATERFORD: Sargeant 7; Power 7, Phillips 8, Osede 7, Burke 7; McDonald 7 (McMenamy 90+1, 6), Baggley 8; Idowu 6 (Griffin 73, 7), Akachukwu 7 (O’Keeffe 82, 6), Parsons 7 (Cresswell 98, 6); Coughlan 7.
COBH RAMBLERS: Steacy 7; Eguaibor 5 (McKevitt 77, 7), Frahill 7, Lyons 6; O’Leary 6 (O’Brien 70, 7), Rowe 6 (Byrne 81, 6), Phillips 6 (Holland 81, 6), Abbott 6 (Desmond 81, 6), Browne 6; Waweru 6 (Thibaut 118), Doherty 6.
REFEREE😀 Dunne (Dublin) 5.