KILKENNY put in an impressive second half display to gain a comfortable 4-22 to 2-16 victory over Wexford in their Allianz Hurling League quarter-final at Wexford Park yesterday.
The home side had a Diarmuid O'Keeffe goal inside 30 seconds of the start, but the Kilkenny response was immediate when Walter Walsh goaled in their first real attack.
The reigning champions continued to press the home side and led 1-7 to 0-6 when TJ Reid found the net after 21 minutes.
Wexford responded through the point-taking of Ian Byrne, who also goaled five minutes before the break, to leave it 2-10 to 1-12 at the break.
However, TJ Reid netted a second goal inside 30 seconds of the restart and, when the same player completed his hat-trick from a 21-yard free, it was 4-13 to 1-13, with Wexford gaining a consolation goal through Rory Jacob 11 minutes from the end.
Clare overcame a determined Laois side by 2-23 to 2-19, with the O'Moore county down to 14-men from the 22nd minute.
Down a man, following a straight red card for defender Tom Delaney in the second quarter, Séamus Plunkett's side gave a brave performance, with just two points between the sides in the 69th minute, following a goal from substitute Brendan Reddin.
It took late scores from Tony Kelly and Colin Ryan (0-10) to ensure a four-point win and a semi-final place for the visitors.
In the match of the day at Semple Stadium, Tipperary beat Cork 3-25 to 4-19 in a thrilling quarter-final.
John O'Dwyer was the Tipperary hero as the Premier county edged out Cork.
The Killenaule man hit 1-7 for Tipp, who now meet Clare in the semi-final.
Division 1B winners Cork recovered from the concession of 2-4 in the opening eight minutes to make a real game of it.
By half-time, the Rebels were 3-11 to 3-9 in front, but they fell six points behind during a topsy-turvy second half.
Patrick Horgan's late goal provided a glimmer of hope for Cork and they could even have snatched a draw at the death when Anthony Nash saw a blistering 20m free blocked on the Tipperary goal-line.
In the fourth quarter-final, Galway claimed a 1-20 to 1-12 win over Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds to earn a tilt at Kilkenny in the semi-final.
Galway went in at the end of a lively opening period leading by 1-8 to 0-8, with Conor Cooney's 14th-minute penalty dividing the teams.
But when Galway hit six of the first seven points after the restart, Limerick were in trouble.
And the victors were able to introduce Portumna's All-Ireland club winning star Joe Canning in the closing stages.
Meanwhile, Antrim secured their Division 1B status with a 1-18 to 1-14 win over Offaly in the relegation play-off at Ballycastle.
Offaly led by 1-9 to 0-4 after 26 minutes, aided by Stephen Quirke's early goal.
But the Saffrons hit 1-4 without reply, inspired by midfielder Paul Shiels. Conor Carson's goal closed the gap to 1-11 to 1-8 by the break.
The second half was nip and tuck, but Antrim, with the superb Shiels weighing in with nine points, held on for a deserved victory.
Offaly now face a must-win battle against the winners of the Division 2A final between Carlow and Kerry, who meet at Thurles this Sunday.