Shamrocks dethrone Clara
New champions will be crowned in the Kilkenny decider on Sunday week after Ballyhale Shamrocks unseated holders Clara at Nowlan Park yesterday.
Shamrocks won 0-19 to 0-16 to set up the chance of a league/championship double, having won the league title some weeks ago.
It was a dour, physical game all the way.
The winners opened backed by the wind, and with four points from top scorer TJ Reid and two from Henry Shefflin (right) they led by 0-10 to 0-7 at the break.
Clara caught up at 0-12 each when Conor O'Shea pointed in the 45th minute, and although they got in front once, Shamrocks halted their drive when Colin Fennelly lashed over two vital points.
And once they regained the lead, Shamrocks hung on tenaciously.
O'Loughlin Gaels, last year's beaten finalists, hung on for a battling 2-13 to 0-16 win over the Rower-Inistioge in the other semi-final.
Gift goals in the first half from Martin Comerford (19th minute) and Alan Geoghegan (24th minute) carried the winners into an interval lead of 2-5 to 0-8.
The Rower got the margin down to three points when Darragh Joyce pointed a free in the 61st minute, but time simply ran out for them, and the Gaels held on.