Defending champions Galway are through to the 2018 All-Ireland hurling final by the skin of their teeth, squeezing past Clare by 1-17 to 2-13 in Thurles.
The Banner County battled back from nine points behind but could never get back on level terms. They were guilty of 19 wides and were also agonisingly unlucky not to get a third goal three minutes from the end when Aron Shanagher struck the woodwork when the net seemed destined to bulge.
Somehow, the Tribesmen withstood the onslaught - which included brilliant second-half goals from Shane O'Donnell and Peter Duggan - to seal a decider date with Limerick in a fortnight.
The Liam MacCarthy Cup holders led by double scores - 1-9 to 0-6 - at the break, despite tiring worryingly in the second quarter. Jonathan Glynn's 21st-minute major had the Leinster champions nine points clear but they didn't score again in the remaining 17 minutes of the first half, while Clare pulled back three unanswered points as the sides went toe to toe.
Niall Burke replaced injured Oranmore-Maree clubmate Gearoid McInerney in the Galway starting XV (with Padraig Mannion starting at centre back and Joseph Cooney positioned in the half-back line), while the Banner also made one late switch before throw-in - David Fitzgerald in at midfield in place of Cathal Malone.
Joe Canning opened the scoring with a brace of points in the second and fifth (free) minutes and winning captain David Burke - lucky not to receive a red card in injury time, which would have ruled him out of the final - tagged on the third before Canning's monster strike from distance made it 0-4 to no score with seven minutes played. Twice Conor Whelan replied to Duggan frees and it was a six-point game by the midway stage in the opening period as the holders tacked on further points via Conor Cooney and David Burke.
The one-way traffic continued as Cathal Mannion registered; no sooner had Tony Kelly posted the losers' first point from play on 20 minutes than Glynn brilliantly controlled a high delivery and swept the sliothar ruthlessly to the net from close range with an instant one-armed swipe - 1-9 to 0-3.
O'Donnell supplied the beaten Munster finalists' fourth point and both goalkeepers dealt capably with dangerous dropping balls before Duggan nailed a difficult free from the right wing to reduce the arrears to seven with eight minutes left before the break. Donal Tuohy advanced brilliantly off his line to deny Cooney a second Tribe major and the Banner spurned a series of presentable opportunities to close the gap as Galway noticeably tired in the lead-up to the short whistle.
The Banner were guilty of eleven first-half wides but Podge Collins popped up in the fourth minute of injury time to slot their first score in eleven minutes and keep them within six at the short whistle.
Substitute Ian Galvin fired over Clare's fourth successive point when the action resumed; Whelan and Canning replied with their third and fourth points respectively but the game exploded back to life in the 43rd minute when goal specialists O'Donnell danced through the Galway rearguard to whip a low shot to the net; a brace of Duggan frees had the challengers back within two points with eleven minutes played in the second half.
Niall Burke and Canning (free) pushed the Tribe lead back out to four with 50 minutes gone but the Banner refused to go away and, on 53 minutes, they were back within the minimum when Duggan planted an unstoppable shot to the top right corner of the net. Galvin cancelled out a Canning free as just a point separated the teams with 15 minutes remaining…
Substitute Shanagher replied to a Canning free as the outcome remained on a knife edge going into the final five minutes. Incredibly, with three minutes left, Shanagher was denied by James Skehill and then doubled the rebounder lucklessly onto the post when a third Clare goal looked inevitable … somehow the sliothar ricocheted past the advancing O'Donnell - an incredible escape for the All-Ireland champions.
The swing was four points as Canning clipped over a sensational sideline cut from the wrong side to double Galway's advantage but John Conlon replied with a minute of normal time remaining. Duggan crucially mis-hit a routine Clare free as we moved into five additional minutes and Niall Burke punished the wasteful Banner when benefiting from excellent Glynn work to pop over a 72nd-minute point.
Duggan halved the deficit 30 seconds from the end of injury time but a relieved Galway held on for a famous win. Clare will be kicking themselves over the autumn and winter, though, because they should have won this match.
Galway - J Skehill; J Hanbury, Daithi Burke, A Tuohy; A Harte, P Mannion, J Cooney; J Coen, David Burke (0-2); J Canning (0-8, 4f, 1sl), C Whelan (0-3), C Mannion (0-1); N Burke (0-2), C Cooney (0-1), J Glynn (1-0). Subs: S Loftus for J Hanbury, J Flynn for C Cooney, D Glennon for J Glynn.
Clare - D Tuohy; P O'Connor, D McInerney, J Browne; S Morey, C Cleary, J Shanahan; C Galvin, D Fitzgerald; P Duggan (1-6, 0-6f), T Kelly (0-1), D Reidy; P Collins (0-1), J Conlon (0-1), S O'Donnell (1-1). Subs: I Galvin (0-2) for D Reidy, C Malone for D Fitzgerald, R Hayes for P O'Connor, M O'Malley for J Shanahan, A Shanagher (0-1) for P Collins.
Referee - F Horgan.Tweet