Ballyhale Shamrocks wing-back Richie Reid admitted they had to overcome their toughest test of the year to reach yet another All-Ireland final following their five-point victory over Slaughtneil in Newry.
The Ulster kingpins were given little chance of staging an upset against the reigning champions but got off to a quick start and remained highly competitive throughout.
It wasn't until Colin Fennelly bustled through to notch his second goal in injury-time that the game was settled beyond doubt, the eventual five-point margin flattering the victors.
The defender admitted that Slaughtneil's effective deployment of a sweeper, combined with their all-round physicality, made things awkward for Ballyhale.
"It was the toughest game we had all year," Reid told RTÉ Sport after the game.
"They threw absolutely everything at us. Lucky enough, we came out at the end of it with a win.
"They dropped back a lot and were sweeping. We knew we had to get better ball into the forwards. In the second half, we started doing that. The goals helped us.
"But they kept coming at us and coming at us. They never stopped and thankfully at the end we got the result we wanted.
"We knew coming up they were going to throw everything at us. They're a physical team, they hit us very hard. We had to live with it and try and make sure our hurling got us over the line. At the end of the day, it did."
The defending champions will meet Borris-Ileigh in the All-Ireland final, after the Tipperary side overcame St Thomas' in the second semi-final in Limerick.
There is only a fortnight to wait until that decider, a significant change from the lengthy run-in to St Patrick's Day finals of years past.
"It's a bit different to St Patrick's Day but we'll look forward to it," said Reid.
"It's an All-Ireland final, you don't get it too often. We're thrilled to be back in another one."
Watch all the Full-Time Highlights of the AIB Senior Club Hurling Semi-Final here on GAANOW.— The GAA (@officialgaa) January 5, 2020
Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) : 2-24
Slaughtneil (Derry) : 2-19 pic.twitter.com/997BnIb8oL
Slaughtneil hurling boss Michael McShane hailed his team's efforts and was left to rue coming out the wrong side of a tight encounter.
"I couldn't be any more proud of them in how they performed. We went up against the reigning All-Ireland champions, a superb team, and went toe to toe with them the whole way to the end.
"The goal at the end made the scoreline look a wee bit lopsided. That's a one or two-point game there.
"We maybe gave away a few soft frees, there were maybe a few soft ones given against us, but whatever way TJ (Reid) wasn't missing them and I think that was the difference.
"There's great pride in going 65 minutes with a team as good as them.
"But ultimately we've still lost. We're going home and Ballyhale are going to the All-Ireland final."