CORK manager Kieran Kingston cut a relieved figure as his side eventually put Antrim to the sword at Corrigan Park today to secure an All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway next Saturday.
The Rebels travelled north as huge favourites, but trailing by one at half-time the shock of the season looked on as the score in no way flattered Antrim who really ought to have been further clear.
However, Kingston's charges regrouped at the break as they quelled the Saffron uprising to exert control and pull clear, sealing the win with 1-2 on stoppage time that put a gloss on the final score.
The Cork banisteoir was well aware of the challenge his side were heading into, but was happy with their second-half response.
"We lost the middle third in the first half but we got control in the second half," Kingston reflected.
"People might think we were complacent coming in and took Antrim for granted, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
"We knew coming up here the history of results between Antrim and Cork over the years here and their results here in League and Championship.
"I spoke to the lads about that leading into the game and I have spent a lot of time here, up in Cushendall, so I'm well aware of Antrim hurling.
"Maybe in the first 20 minutes, the lads didn't believe me and were a bit complacent, the decision-making was poor, going for goals when points were on and that cost us.
"We weren't in control of the game, but happy where we were at half-time."
Antrim manager Darren Gleeson was left to rue a number of first-half opportunities that came and went when the Saffrons really could have turned the screw.
It has been a good year for the Ulster side who remained in Division One of the League and qualified for next year's Leinster Championship by way of their Joe McDonagh success, soo the Tipperary native - who wouldn't be drawn on his future - insists the future is bright fir this group who have proven their worth at this level.
"We played really well all year into the breeze and the games we struggled in was using the wind," he reflected.
"Again today, there were 10 wides in the first half and we are disappointed with that. Handling errors saw us hand over two goals, so simple things and fine margins playing at the highest level that cost you.
"Going in a point up at half-time should have been more and we needed that to carry us through. They got meaningful scores after half-time - out-scoring us three or four to one - and we were out on our feet there with five or six minutes to go as it was a big effort over seven days. But they stuck to the task and there's a huge amount to build on there for Antrim hurling."