Cork defender Mark Coleman says he and his colleagues knew they were facing a “savage test” against Tipperary in Semple Stadium last weekend.
“After us winning in Waterford, that gave Tipp a lifeline so we knew that they were going to come out all guns blazing, which they did.
“They hit us hard in the first three or four minutes but we stuck to our own plan and just dug in, so we were delighted to come out with the result.
“No matter what, whether you go three points, six points down or six points up, you just try to fall back on your game plan and that’s what we do.
“We never really panic and just try to fall back on the things that we’re good at and what work for us. That’s what we’ve been trying to do and, when you add that to the game plan, it helps you out of those kinds of sticky situations.”
Coleman says Cork were keen to stay on top after the break: “We knew coming out at the start of the second half that if we gave them the same start as they had in the first, we’d be under pressure again.
“It was just about getting out of the blocks again and making sure we didn’t give them a goal chance.
“We were up by eight half-time and it’s about making sure that you keep that at least keep the scoreboard ticking over.
"For every one you get, they have to get two, so that was the plan, to keep them at arm’s length.”
The players tried “to keep the outside out” when it came to criticism, he added, acknowledging that they had to improve on their first two displays.
“It’s important in this type of format that you keep tight as a group. You know that there are going to be chances, that’s what makes it a good format, so we never panicked.
“We were poor, to be fair, in the first two games but we took the learnings from them and we came out and turned it around in the last two. Thankfully, it worked out the way it did and we’re out of the group.
“There had to be (improvement) - we knew that we didn’t play to our own standards and when you don’t meet your standards you have to ask why.
“There have to be those conversations and it’s not even that they’re hard, it’s just to take the learnings from it really, more than anything – what went wrong and how to fix it.
“It’s the same as any poor performance, that’s what you do.”
Cork face into the All-Ireland series with some momentum, but Coleman says they’re “nowhere near the finished article” yet.
“Last year was probably the first year in a long time that we put a few performances back to back in knockout games.
“It’s not something we spoke about, but I suppose when you’re in the heat of championship like that, having that experience of knockout games can’t be a bad thing anyway.
“It’s tough when you’re losing games but we knew that there were some obvious learnings there. You try to look after the big rocks first and if you can get them right and see where the performance goes after that, that’s the main thing. Once we got those things right, the big things that were wrong, the performances started coming, last week and this week. There’s still a lot to work on for the next three weeks, we’re nowhere near the finished article so there’s still work to be done.”