A James Nolan goal gave Clara the boost they needed to charge into the Kilkenny senior hurling final.
Nolan’s strike, a volleyed shot following some good work by Ciaran Prendergast, proved to be the score that saw the reigning intermediate club All-Ireland champions shake off a dogged St Martin’s (Muckalee) on a 1-17 to 1-14 scoreline in Nowlan Park on Sunday.
Backed by the accuracy of their free-taker Keith Nolan (0-3) Clara moved into an early lead (0-5 to 0-2). However the Saints took control when a John Mulhall point was followed by Canice Maher’s 13th minute goal, the half-forward gathering Robert Shore’s telling pass and slotting the sliotar in the bottom right corner of the Clara net.
The goal knocked Clara out of their stride, but Martin’s couldn’t fully capitalise. They only managed to go two points clear, keeping that lead thanks to a fine save from netminder Colin McGrath, helping them stay in front at half-time (1-6 to 0-8).
Muckalee held on to their slender advantage into the last quarter - but Clara, backed by strong play from Liam Ryan and Keith Hogan, scrapped their way in front. Further points from Nolan and Hogan pushed them in front before Nolan slammed home the decisive goal.
Clara will face Carrickshock in the decider on October 27.
SCORERS: Clara - Keith Hogan (0-7, 0-5 frees); James Nolan (1-2); Liam Ryan (0-3); Jack Langton, Ciaran Prendergast (0-2 each); Neal Prendergast (0-1). St Martin’s - John Maher (0-8, 0-6 frees); John Mulhall (0-4); Canice Maher (1-0); Robert Shore, David Breen (0-1 each).