Points by sub Christopher Bolger and ace free-taker Keith Hogan in the 72nd and 75th minutes earned Kilkenny side Clara a thrilling victory over Silvermines of Tipperary.
The Portlaoise pitch cut up badly in awful conditions, but two committed teams produced top-class hurling before Clara snatched the ticket to Croke Park on February 10.
Daniel Keogh's 13th-minute goal helped Silvermines to a 1-5 to 0-7 advantage at half-time, and they came within 30 seconds of winning after Jason Forde put them in front late on, only for a Hogan free to level it at 0-15 to 1-12 and force extra-time. At the interval, the Kilkenny champs led by 0-17 to 1-13 after scores from Hogan (two) and one from Willie Keogh in reply. A foul on Keogh saw Jason Forde level again before Hogan and Bolger struck.
Scorers – Clara: K Hogan 0-10 (5f, 1 '65), Liam Ryan 0-3, A Murphy 0-2, Lester Ryan, C Phelan, C Prendergast, C Bolger 0-1 each. Silvermines: J Forde 0-8 (6f), D Keogh 1-0, O Quirke, D Boland 0-2 each, W Keogh, D Keogh 0-1 each.
Clara – K Nolan; T Ryan, J Phelan, S O'Shea; N Prendergast, S Prendergast, D Langton; J Langton, Lester Ryan; C Phelan, A Murphy, Liam Ryan; B O'Shea, J Nolan, K Hogan. Subs: C Prendergast for B O'Shea (h-t), C Bolger for J Nolan (48), K Phelan for A Murphy (55), J Nolan for C Prendergast (70), D Nolan for S O'Shea (72), C O'Shea for K Phelan (76).
Silvermines – C Sherlock; M Leamy, B Timmons, D Boland; D Keogh, R Sherlock, N Quirke; C Gleeson, O Quirke; W Keogh, D Boland, S Quirke; D Keogh, J Forde, D Keogh. Subs: P Fogarty for D Keogh (47), G Toohey for S Quirke (69), D Keogh for P Fogarty (75).
REF – O Elliott (Antrim).