A strong finish proved key as the Kilkenny minor hurlers overcame a tough Offaly test to book their place in the Leinster final.
An impressive closing 10 minutes was vital as the Cats ground their way to victory in Tullamore.
The home side had a lucky escape after just seven minutes when Ciaran Brennan tapped home a long delivery to the Offaly net only for the referee and umpires to disallow the goal. Buoyed by that let-off the home side took control of the game and were rewarded when Ciaran Teehan goaled in the 17th minute. It was a score that proved decisive as, despite some good points from Ciaran Brennan and Conor Kelly, Kilkenny found themselves two down at the break (Offaly 1-10, Kilkenny 0-11).
Just like their quarter-final win over Westmeath Kilkenny hit the ground running in the second half, with Conor Kelly (0-3 frees) and Ciaran Brennan hitting early scores.
The Cats got on top in the second half, Kelly pushing them four clear, but a defensive lapse saw Offaly’s D.J. McLoughlin pounce for a second goal with 11 minutes to go.
Offaly looked to be back in contention, but Kilkenny cut their hopes short, Cian Kenny (0-2) and Conor Kelly (free) hitting the points that saw the Cats close the game out.
Kilkenny will play Dublin in the Leinster minor hurling final next Saturday, at a venue to be decided.
SCORERS: Kilkenny - Conor Kelly (0-12, 0-10 frees); Ciaran Brennan (0-5); Cian Kenny, Eoin Guilfoyle (0-2 each); Darragh Maher, George Murphy, Jack Doyle (0-1 each). Offaly - Cathal Kelly (0-7, 0-5 frees, 0-1 line ball); Ciaran Teehan (1-1), D.J. McLoughlin (1-1 each); Dara Maher (0-2); Andrew Walsh, Cathal Donoghue (0-1 each).