Keith Guiry’s second-half goal ultimately divided the teams after they were level four times in a tight quarter-final tie.
The six-time champions recovered from a rocky start to pinch a slender 0-5 to 0-4 lead at the break. Rathgormack frustrated the favourites early on and county minor Conor Murray hit three fabulous points.
Rathgormack had a bite to their play and an organised defence proved difficult to pierce through. The Nire eventually knuckled down as Jamie Barron and Brian Wall slotted two apiece, with Keith Guiry also on target.
The enthusiastic Murray nosed Rathgormack ahead with his fourth point from play five minutes into the second half. Craig Guiry levelled before The Nire struck for a game-changing goal after 38 minutes. Craig Guiry sprayed the ball across to Shane Ryan who transferred to Keith Guiry and he rounded Brendan Crotty before shooting home (1-6 to 0-6).
Rathgormack refused to surrender and almost forced extra-time as Gavin Nugent rifled an injury- time shot that flashed across the face of goal. Late injuries suffered by Liam Lawlor and Conor Gleeson will also concern manager Benji Whelan ahead of the semi-final.
In a one-sided relegation play-off, Ardmore survived the drop with a 3-11 to 0-7 win against Ballinameela. The 2007 county finalists had lost 11 games on the spin across both codes beforehand but they attacked this clash with gusto. James Kennedy pounced for a goal on four minutes after Alan North’s initial shot was saved by Paul Curran. David Gartland supplied Wayne Hennessy for a second in the 10th minute as Ardmore cut through with surprising ease. Hennessy was the most influential player on show and finished with 1-3.
Substitute Eoin Conway confirmed their senior participation in 2015 as he slipped a shot to the corner within seconds of his introduction.