WHILE they were strong favourites, big question-marks remained against Tipperary going into yesterday's Munster hurling semi-final with Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Though not all of them were answered, some were and it was enough for the Premier County to progress to a third provincial final with Waterford in four years, as they overturned a first-half deficit to prevail by a point.
The key score was Noel McGrath's 46th-minute goal, and it was fitting that the returning Lar Corbett, who had been introduced as a first-half sub, was involved in the build-up, linking with John O'Brien before feeding McGrath.
Strength in adversity was huge, in Corbett's view.
"I suppose we were under pressure again today, and we were under pressure against Limerick. I think that builds character," he said after.
"We have shown over the last couple of years that we have character and it is slowly but surely coming out of us.
"I really believe that there is a good panel of lads there -- there's lads to come off the bench and there's lads to start, so we're looking forward to the Munster final."
The tone was set before throw-in, when Pádraic Maher was booked for an altercation with Cathal Naughton, and from the off it was breakneck stuff, Cork settling the better as all six of their forwards had scored in the first 21 minutes.
Three times they held four-point leads, Patrick Horgan deadly from frees while Conor O'Sullivan shone in a defence where Tipp were being stymied in their efforts.
Nevertheless, Pa Bourke was very impressive from frees, Noel McGrath was ultra-efficient with what little ball he had and Patrick Maher had the beating of Eoin Cadogan.
Horgan's point on 21 made it 0-12 to 0-8, but the tempo could not be maintained indefinitely and a free and two '65s' from Bourke had Tipp back to within one.
After Horgan converted another free, Cork thought they had found the net as Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins fumbled a free from opposite number Anthony Nash into the net, but a free out had been awarded.
Though Brendan Maher reduced the deficit to one again, a super score from Horgan left it 0-14 to 0-12 at the break, though with Tipp having the wind to come they could not be discounted.
Early in the second period, Cork kept their noses in front, but there were worrying signs, such as Brian O'Meara's good point, and Bourke's free had Tipp back to within one, 0-16 to 1-15, when McGrath struck for his goal.
Despite O'Brien being sent off two minutes later, Tipp would never be led after that, despite Cork's endeavour.
Pádraic Maher made a huge impression in the second half while Bourke continued to nail frees and McGrath added two fine points.
They made it 1-22 to 0-22 to quell another Cork revival and while Horgan sent over two Cork frees to bring them back to within one, they could not find an equaliser and now go into the qualifiers.