Jimmy Barry-Murphy says he has been 'amazed' by Cork's improvement this summer.
Rated by many as the weakest of the five Munster SHC teams only a few months ago, the rejuvenated Rebels stormed to provincial glory in July and are now just 70 minutes away from reaching their first All-Ireland final since 2013, when JBM was at the helm.
The Cork legend, who had previously managed a youthful Cork team to a surprise All-Ireland triumph in 1999, admitted to the Irish Examiner: "I'm surprised by how well we've done - I didn't see it coming this soon. I knew we had made progress but I honestly didn't see us coming through Munster like we did. It looked a very tough draw in Munster and in all honesty, I was worried for them against Tipperary.
"I'm amazed by the progress they've made in such a short time, because last year was a struggle for them.
"Looking at my own experience in management, that first year is always a huge learning curve for everyone, and I'd say the lads learned enormously from that and have made massive progress in the meantime."