Sarsfields suffered a setback before the start when county star Lar Corbett had to withdraw with a leg injury, and it was indicative of the pressure the Thurles management were under that Corbett was introduced with 15 minutes to go.
Sarsfields were three points ahead at the time, but a rallying Templederry, who had hit four unanswered points in six minutes to cut a seven points deficit to three, were poised to cause a major upset.
The Thurles lads were on top in the first half but slack finishing cost them scores and they went in at half-time leading 0-9 to 0-5, having played with the breeze. Aidan McCormack was their key man in a sluggish forward line, scoring six points.
Though Thomas Stapleton re-opened with a Templederry point, four unanswered points in five minutes at the start of the second half, had Sarsfields cruising.
Then Templederry, inspired by county man Gearoid Ryan, hit a purple patch. Ryan twice pointed and with further points from Padraig O’Leary and Adrian Ryan, Templederry were only three behind going into the last quarter.
Sarsfields introduced Corbett and held their nerve. McCormack (2) and former county man Pa Bourke (2) reeled off points to restore their seven-point lead with five minutes to play. Eanna Murray for Templederry and Bourke exchanged points but Gearoid Ryan’s goal for Templederry after 59 minutes came too late to ignite a second rally.
Sarsfields were happy to clear a difficult hurdle and are well placed going into the final, having beaten other leading contenders Drom-Inch and Éire Óg, Nenagh en route . While McCormack was the scoring star, Padraic Maher, Ronan Maher, Stephen Maher, Denis Maher, Michael Gleeson. Michel Cahill, and Pa Bourke were others to be very influential.
Templederry were bidding to reach the final for the first time. Gearoid Ryan, Adrian Ryan, Christy Coughlan, Timmy Minogue and Thomas Stapleton led by example.
Thurles Sarsfields scorers: A McCormack 0-9; P Bourke (0-4); D Maher, B McCarthy, S Cahill, C Lanigan, M O’Brien (0-1 each);
Templederry scorers: G Ryan (1-2), A Ryan (0-4), T Ryan, E Murray, D Cary, P O’Leary, T Stapleton (0-1 each)
THURLES SARSFIELDS: P McCormack; S Maher, D Maher, M Cahill; M Gleeson, P Maher, R Maher; S Cahill, B McCarthy; R Ruth, A McCormack, D Maher; M O’Brien, G O’Grady, P Bourke.
Subs: C Lanigan for O’Grady; J Maher for O Brien; L Corbett for Ruth.
TEMPLEDERRY KENYONS: M Ryan; P Hogan, C Coughlan, J Harkin; T Stapleton, T Minogue, P Ryan; B Stapleton, M Hogan; D Carey, G Ryan, E Murray; Padraig Ryan, A Ryan, T Ryan; Subs: M McGrath for M Hogan; L McCutcheon for Murray; E Murray for T Ryan; P O’ Leary for Padraig Ryan.
Referee: G Fitzpatrick, Roscrea.