LIT, two-time winners of the competition, were rank outsiders at 6-1 but in front of a crowd of about 3,000 they pulled off a famous win.
Clare’s 2013 Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly was the star of the show once again as the vastly talented 20-year-old bagged 1-10.
Tipperary’s Philip Ivors weighed in with 1-3 from play but LIT’s day ended on a sour note when Seanie O’Brien picked up a straight red card which looks set to rule him out of finals weekend at Queen’s.
There, LIT face Waterford IT in the semi-finals and, if they can reproduce yesterday’s high levels of work-rate and intensity, there’s every chance the 2005 and 2007 winners could lift silverware again.
Jason Forde hit 1-6 for UL, but a star-studded home side was simply outfought by an LIT side operating with Dan Morrissey as a spare man in defence.
But LIT had to dig deep in the second-half as UL had come from 0-6 to 0-10 behind at half-time to draw level within two minutes of the restart.
Forde banged home a final goal after 16 seconds before fellow Tipperary native Tommy Heffernan sent over an equalising point.
But LIT refused to be daunted and they hit back with a run of points to move 0-15 to 1-8 clear.
And when Kelly looped an effort from an acute angle over the head of Shane Hassett and into the UL net, it was game over.
Ivors capped a remarkable LIT performance when he latched onto Kelly’s long ball to smash home a fine second goal with two minutes remaining, shortly after O’Brien saw red.
UL, who finished with 12 wides, lacked a cutting edge in attack and while Fitzgerald’s tactics were a huge factor in this, full-forward Johnny Glynn spurned two glorious goal chances when he kicked wide on both occasions.
Clare’s All-Ireland winning boss Fitzgerald declared: “That was as big as anything I have ever done because we weren’t given a snowball’s chance but I love them odds anyway. I love when your back is to the wall – hats off to the lads, they were absolutely incredible.”
He added: “The bookies never normally get it wrong, or too wrong anyway. When you’re 6-1 outsiders, that means that you’re probably ten or 15 points worse than the opposition. For us to play with the heart we did, with the ferocity was massive.”
Scorers for UL: J Forde 1-6 (0-5f, 0-1 sl), P Walsh & T Heffernan 0-2 each, C Malone, P Collins & T O’Brien (f), 0-1 each.
Scorers for LIT: T Kelly 1-10 (0-5f, 0-1 65), P Ivors 1-3, M Gennery 0-2, P Flaherty 0-1.
UL: S Hassett (Tipperary); P Flanagan (Clare), J Sheehan (Cork), J Browne (Clare); T Ryan (Limerick), D Morrissey (Limerick), C Ryan (Clare); B Maher (Tipperary), P Walsh (Kilkenny); C Malone (Clare), P Collins (Clare), B Stapleton (Tipperary); J Forde (Tipperary), J Glynn (Galway), T Heffernan (Tipperary).
Subs: S Morey (Clare) for Maher (28), T O’Brien (Limerick) for Stapleton (44), M Carmody (Limerick) for Sheehan (51).
LIT: A Murphy (Limerick); S O’Gorman (Clare), M Minehan (Tipperary), C Nolan (Clare); P Flaherty (Galway), E Boyce (Clare), A Dempsey (Limerick); B O’Connell (Limerick), T Kelly (Clare); S O’Brien (Limerick), P Ivors (Tipperary), P Begley (Limerick); M Gennery (Tipperary), C McInerney (Clare), J Shanahan (Clare).
Subs: S McGrath (Clare) for Gennery (44), O Hickey (Clare) for Ivors (60+1).
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).