Donegal remain in the chase for promotion from Allianz Football League Division 2, with Cork on the brink of relegation, following a second-half turnaround for the visitors at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday.
Cork had led by 1-8 to 0-6 at half-time and moved six clear when Mark Collins pointed on the resumption, but the Rebels would only score four points for the remainder of the game as the visitors took control of proceedings.
After points from Daire Ó Baoill and Michael Murphy, Luke Connolly’s free did push Cork five ahead again but four in a row – two from Murphy and one each for Ryan McHugh and Jamie Brennan - left Declan Bonner’s side just one behind, by the 52nd minute.
Again Connolly pointed for Cork, but the home team had lost the momentum and Niall O’Donnell, Murphy and Hugh McFadden had points as Donegal took the lead for the first time since the opening quarter.
Cork did level with Connolly getting his fourth point on the hour mark, but they wouldn’t score again and Donegal eased clear with a pair of O’Donnell points. Cork’s defeat was worsened by the losses of Ian Maguire and Luke Connolly to injury with all of their subs used while Collins was red-carded late on for a second caution.
Exploiting the space, Donegal hit Cork on the break and added another point from Ó Baoill before Caolán McGonagle forced a turnover deep in home territory and set up Brennan for a palmed goal. Ryan McHugh rounded off the scoring to leave them in with a shout for promotion going into the final round of games.
In contrast, Cork will be relegated if Clare beat Meath on Sunday, and they will reflect on a failure to push on from their five-point first-half lead. Having trailed three times, they moved 0-6 to 0-3 in front with points from Ruairí Deane, Eoghan McSweeney and Connolly. While Donegal cancelled out that advantage, Cork surged clear again coming up to half-time.
Matthew Taylor got a goal for them as he netted the rebound following a Shaun Patton save from Deane and two McSweeney points extended the advantage to five points.
However, it was not to be their day as Donegal seized the upper hand in the second half.
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Eamonn Doherty, Stephen McMenamin, Caolán Ward (0-01); Paul Brennan, Leo McLoone, Eoghan Bán Gallagher; Hugh McFaden (0-01), Caolán McGonagle; Niall O’Donnell (0-03), Ciarán Thompson (0-01), Ryan McHugh (0-02); Jamie Brennan (1-02), Michael Murphy (0-06, 0-04 frees, 0-01 45), Oisín Gallen (0-01).
Subs: Daire Ó Baoill (0-02) for Brennan (23), Paddy McGrath for Ward (half-time), Eoin McHugh for Gallen, Neil McGee for Doherty (both 70)
Cork: Micheál Martin; Sam Ryan, Thomas Clancy, Conor Dennehy; Kevin Crowley, Kevin Flahive, Matthew Taylor (1-00); Ian Maguire, Killian O’Hanlon; Paul Kerrigan, Eoghan McSweeney (0-03), Ruairí Deane (0-01); Mark Collins (0-02), Michael Hurley (0-02), Luke Connolly (0-04, 0-03 frees).
Subs: Mark White for Martin (42), Ronan O’Toole for Kerrigan (57), Kevin O’Driscoll for Taylor (57), Seán Powter for Deane (61-64, blood), Cian Kiely for Dennehy (63), Powter for Crowley (67).
Referee: David Gough (Meath)