Mount Leinster Rangers 0-16 Ballyhale Shamrocks 0-22

Reigning Leinster and All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship title holders Ballyhale Shamrocks endured a nervous second half before eventually advancing to the last four in their province with a six-point win over Mount Leinster Rangers.

Leading by 10 points late in the first half, and by nine at half-time, this should have been a far more routine win for the star-studded Kilkenny outfit but they were powerless to prevent 2013 winners Mount Leinster from launching a stirring comeback.

That Denis Murphy led revival from the underdogs got them to within just three points of Ballyhale in the 59th minute but that was as good as it got for them as James O'Connor's side reeled off the game's last three points to win by a slightly flattering margin.

Ballyhale will return to action in eight days' tiime to play St Rynaghs of Offaly in the Leinster semi-finals in Tullamore and will be hoping for improvement.

Newly married TJ Reid and former Kilkenny star Colin Fennelly were both relatively quiet though the four-in-a-row Kilkenny champions still extended their unbeaten run outside of their county to 14 games, winning three Leinster and three All-Ireland titles since last suffering a defeat in the province back in 2012.

Mount Leinster Rangers hadn't played a competitive game in almost 11 weeks since beating St Mullins 0-24 to 0-16 in the Carlow final on 19 September - and it showed initially.

They needed a decent start to generate badly needed momentum for themselves and did score the opening point, through Murphy, but only added one more, from Fiachra Fitzpatrick, in the opening quarter.

Ballyhale, in turn, exerted their dominance immediately and reeled off bursts of three and then six points without response to lead 0-09 to 0-03 at the water break.

Already it was looking ominous for the underdogs to score a surprise win over the record provincial and All-Ireland winners.

Brian Cody contributed three of those early Ballyhale scores and added a fourth just before half-time while Adrian Mullen and Joe Cuddihy were prominent in attack too, splitting six first-half points evenly between them.

Ballyhale were clinical and efficient, Mullen punishing a stray pass in the 15th minute with a long-range point while Cuddihy capitalised in the 22nd minute after Fitzpatrick was penalised for over-carrying.

The players tussle on the sideline during the game

It was a display of professionalism from Ballyhale with Fennelly their only forward who didn't score in the first half.

They led 0-14 to 0-05 at the interval with midfielder Ronan Corcoran also getting his name on the scoresheet. At the back, Joey Holden pulled several balls out of the sky while Richie Reid cleared on several occasions.

A clear-cut goal opportunity was all that eluded Ballyhale though they seemed happy to pick off their points from medium and long-range.

The game turned in the third quarter and the wind advantage may have been a contributing factor. Mount Leinster Rangers won the third quarter by 0-07 to 0-04 with free-taker Murphy scoring six of those points, all from placed balls as they punished indiscipline in the Shamrocks defence.

In the 53rd minute, Rangers full-forward Jon Nolan was through on goal but his shot was well smothered by Ballyhale goalkeeper Dean Mason.

The hosts would still go on to get the margin down to just three points but timely Ballyhale points from Eoin Cody and Evan Shefflin kept their noses well in front and those three late scores from Reid and Cuddihy ultimately sealed their progress to the semi-finals.

Ballyhale Shamrocks: Dean Mason; Darren Mullen, Joey Holden, Kevin Mullen; Evan Shefflin (0-01), Richie Reid, Brian Butler; Darragh Corcoran, Ronan Corcoran (0-01); Brian Cody (0-04), TJ Reid (0-06, 0-03f, 0-01 65), Colin Fennelly; Adrian Mullen (0-03), Eoin Cody (0-03), Joe Cuddihy (0-04).

Subs: Eoin Reid for Darren Mullen 24, Gavin Butler for Brian Butler 50, Eoin Kenneally for Cuddihy 64.

Mount Leinster Rangers: Dean Grennan; Michael Doyle, David Phelan, Gary Kelly (0-01); Gary Lawlor, Diarmuid Byrne, Richard Kelly; Paul Coady, Richard Coady (0-01); Fiachra Fitzpatrick (0-01), Chris Nolan, Kevin McDonald; Denis Murphy (0-12, 0-11f), Edward Byrne, Jon Nolan.

Subs: Ted Joyce (0-01) for Edward Byrne 14.

Referee: Richie Fitzsimons (Offaly).