They have earned a fearsome reputation as a second-half side, and O'Loughlin Gaels once again came good at the decisive time to book their place in the All-Ireland club hurling final.
Three goals in the final 20 minutes shattered the Loughgiel dream at Parnell Park and landed the Kilkenny men a place in the St Patrick's Day showpiece.
They led by just three points at the end of a scrappy first half, but stepped up the tempo after the break for Peter Dowling, Alan Geoghegan and Danny Loughnane struck the goals that proved decisive. Gaels had a handful of goal chances early on, the best of which fell to Danny Loughnane, sent clear by Mark Bergin, but Damien 'DD' Quinn made a superb save.
They did ease 0-3 to 0-1 ahead inside the opening five minutes with a couple of neat Bergin strikes, but they went 17 frustrating minutes without scoring. Liam Watson and Eddie McCloskey found the target for the Ulster champions, but a late flourish saw Bergin and Maurice Nolan hit points for a 0-5 to 0-3 interval lead.
Watson appeared to ignore instructions from manager PJ O'Mullan when he went for goal from a 20-metre free, his effort blocked out at a time when a point could have acted as a springboard for his side.
Gaels tightened their grip with scores from Niall McEvoy (2) and Loughnane immediately after the restart, and struck a decisive blow in the 41st minute when Peter Dowling galloped through to hit a goal, netting at the second attempt after his initial effort was blocked down by Neill McGarry. The Kilkenny champions now looked more comfortable, with Brian Hogan imposing himself on their defensive effort, but they had to withstand another Shamrocks spell, with Brendan McGarry, Joseph Scullion and Barney McAuley all striking points.
But Loughnane killed the game off 10 minutes from the end with his side's second goal, finishing from close range after the Loughgiel defence had failed to clear Stephen Murphy's booming delivery.
Alan Geoghegan rifled home a third goal to secure the Kilkenny city side's place in the St Patrick's Day showpiece.
Scorers -- O'Loughlin Gaels: D Loughnane 1-1; P Dowling, A Geoghegan 1-0 each; M Bergin 0-3 (1f); M Nolan, N McEvoy 0-2 each; B Dowling, M Comerford 0-1 each. Loughgiel: L Watson 0-3 (2f); E McCloskey, B McAuley (1f) 0-2 each; B McGarry, J Scullion, A Watt 0-1 each.
O'Loughlin Gaels: S Murphy; B Kelly, B Murphy, E Kearns; A O'Brien, B Hogan, N Bergin; P Dowling, M Nolan; N McEvoy, M Bergin, A Geoghegan; B Dowling, M Comerford, D Loughnane. Subs: S Cummins for Dowling, C Bergin for Geoghegan, E Grant for B Murphy.
Loughgiel: D Quinn; P Gillan, N McGarry, B McAuley; M McFadden, Johnny Campbell, M Scullion; D Laverty, L McKillop; E McCloskey, James Campbell, A McCloskey; B McGarry, J Scullion, L Watson. Subs: A Watt for A McCloskey, C McKinley for James Campbell, D Laverty for B McGarry.
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).
Sunday Indo Sport