Aaron Gillane (0-14) caught the eye as Limerick proved too strong for Clare in golden sunlight at the Gaelic Grounds, 1-28 to 1-15.
A crowd of 5,577 were treated to an exhibition of hurling from the hosts - who had ten different scorers over the hour - as they built on their quarter-final victory over Tipperary three weeks ago to ease into the provincial final, where they'll take on either Cork or Waterford (who meet tomorrow night) on Wednesday, July 26th. The decider will be staged back here in the Gaelic Grounds.
Eight points from the in-form Gillane and Peter Casey's goal ensured the rampant home team - All-Ireand minor finalists three years ago - of a comfortable 1-14 to 1-5 interval lead.
The Treaty County made a dream start to lead by six points with just six minutes played, 1-5 to 0-2. Full forward Tom Morrissey stretched their lead with a sweet strike from out the field on nine minutes and centre forward Barry Murphy was on hand to leave eight between them.
The Banner were offered a lifeline when Billy Connors planted the sliothar in the bottom left corner of the Limerick net in the eleventh minutes but the hosts replied with a point from Gillane, who then smashed a pile-driver lucklessly off the Clare crossbar before popping over a free to make it 1-9 to 1-2 after 13 minutes. Patrickswell ace Gillane's third successive score ensured that the winners led by eight at the midway stage in the first half, with Casey and Morrissey each flashing Limerick goal chances narrowly wide.
Thomas Grimes and Colin Corbett traded the first two points and Gillane added two scores either side of a David Fitzgerald reply before Barry Nash and Robbie Hanley pointed for Pat Donnelly's impressive charges and Casey's sixth-minute major to the roof of the net left daylight between the teams already.
Three more Gillane points brought his tally to 0-8 after 22 minutes and Nash added another, with Ian Galvin clipping one over at the other end as the Treaty County eased into a 1-14 to 1-3 lead. Corbett drilled over Clare's fourth and senior star Galvin pulled another one back from distance five minutes from the break. When the short whistle sounded, Limerick already had one foot and four toes in the final, leading by nine points.
Morrissey fired a Limerick goal chance inches over the bar following good approach play from Gillane 30 seconds after the restart and Galvin replied from a 32nd-minute free. Brian Cahill, captain Michael O'Malley and full forward Aron Shanagher lofted over quickfire Clare points as they hit four in a row to close within six after 37 minutes.
Wobbling slightly, the Treaty hit a couple of unexpected wides but Galvin had no such trouble at the other end as John Carmody's side edged even closer; but a Gillane free on 40 minutes steadied the hosts before midfielder Colin Ryan and Gillane from the left wing - with his tenth! - made it 1-18 to 1-10 as we passed the three-quarters mark.
Midfielder Hanley added to the winners' tally before Galvin and Gillane swapped frees; the brilliant Ryan stroked over the 21st and 22nd Limerick points after substitute Michael O'Shea and Fitzgerald had posted a couple of points for the Banner.
Gillane hammered over his twelfth score from tremendous distance as the gap went out to ten points with five minutes left and wing back Ronan Lynch smashed over a terrific free from deep inside his own half before Cian Lynch thumped over a superb point on the spin on 58 minutes.
The losers had corner back Conor O'Halloran sent off in the last minute for a second yellow-card offence and he was still shaking his head as Gillane popped over the resultant free followed by a point from play.
Substitutes Paudie Ahern (Limerick), Padraic O'Loughlin and Michael Moloney (both Clare) all pointed in injury time as Limerick ran out easy winners to advance to the final in a fortnight.
Gillane was immense for the victors, with eight of his fourteen points coming from play and a couple of them almost nestling in the net. He also rattled the crossbar … a class act!
Limerick - E McNamara; S Finn, D Fanning, D Joy; R Lynch (0-1f), K Hayes, T Grimes (0-1); C Ryan (0-3), R Hanley (0-2); A Gillane (0-14, 5f, 1'65), B Murphy (0-1), C Lynch (0-1); P Casey (1-0), T Morrissey (0-2), B Nash (0-2). Subs: C Boylan for B Murphy, A La Touche Cosgrave for T Grimes, C McSweeney for S Finn, P Ahern (0-1) for T Morrissey, O O'Reilly for P Casey.
Clare - K Nugent; C O'Halloran, D Walsh, C Cooney; C Smyth, D Fitzgerald (0-2), R Hayes (0-1); J McCarthy, M O'Malley (0-1); B O'Gorman, I Galvin (0-5, 4f), B Cahill (0-1); C Corbett (0-2), A Shanagher (0-1), B Connors (1-0). Subs: M Moloney (0-1) for C Smyth, M O'Shea for C Corbett, P O'Loughlin (0-1) for R Hayes, C Noonan for B Cahill, J Cunningham for B O'Gorman.
Referee - C McAllister.