Mayo 1-13 Cork 0-14, Castlebarr, Allianz Football League
Mayo ensured their Division 1 status for another year with a gutsy home win over All-Ireland champions Cork this afternoon.
The sides were level on four occasions in the first half at Castlebar, before points from Jason Doherty and James Kilcullen gave the hosts a 0-07 to 0-06 lead at the break.
Doherty displayed his goal-scoring touch again to move Mayo 1-10 to 0-07 ahead and James Horan's side held on despite a late Daniel Goulding-inspired comeback from Cork.
After Alan Freeman had pointed in the 53rd minute to put Mayo 1-13 to 0-09 in front, it was all Cork after that. Goulding and substitute John Miskella shared out five points as the home lead was whittled down to just two.
Cork went in search of a match-winning goal and defender Eoin Cadogan almost found it. He was presented with a chance in injury-time, but the covering Ger Cafferkey managed to block the shot and Mayo survived.
The Rebels, who beat Mayo in last year's league final, won the early breaks around midfield and Paul Kerrigan and Goulding popped over two opening points.
In cold and breezy conditions, the Connacht men replied with three on the bounce to take the lead by the 12th minute. Andy Moran fired over from distance, there was a fisted effort from captain Alan Dillon and midfielder James Kilcullen scored the first of his two points.
An unmarked Fiachra Lynch levelled the tie fork Cork and the scoreboard continued to show that there was very little between the teams - Moran, Sean Kiely, Dillon and O'Neill exchanged points.
That left it level-pegging at 0-05 apiece in the 24th minute and then wind-backed Mayo edged ahead again. Doherty found his range and Kilcullen soon made it 0-07 to 0-05.
Goulding converted a free just before the half-time whistle to leave Cork just a single point behind in what was a competitive, but slow-burning encounter.
The point-for-point nature of the game continued into the second half. O'Neill and Dillon (free) swapped early scores, but then Mayo took it up a notch by scoring 1-03 without reply.
The influential Dillon kicked two more frees and Aidan O'Shea conjured up a terrific point off the outside of his left boot. However, the centre piece was the goal from Doherty - his sixth of the league campaign.
With 45 minutes on the clock, O'Shea, who did well at midfield alongside Kilcullen, fed Cafferkey whose point attempt fell away to the right. Doherty kept the ball in play and cut past his marker before threading a shot through on goal. Ken O'Halloran was equal to it, but Doherty was able to stab home on the rebound for the game's only goal.
The Burrishoole clubman was an energetic presence in and around the square and had gone close previously to bulging the Cork net. On one such occasion, it took a last-ditch block from Michael Shields to keep out a Doherty shot.
But for most of the remainder, Cork dictated the play. Cillian O'Connor and Freeman landed Mayo's final two scores, after Goulding had ended a 13-minute scoreless spell for Conor Counihan's side.
Goulding and Miskella did their best to snatch the victory for the defending champions, who could yet qualify for the final, in the dying embers, but Mayo deserved it and can head into their final round match against Monaghan without the spectre of relegation hanging over them.
Scorers - Mayo: A Dillon 0-05, J Doherty 1-01, J Kilcullen, A Moran 0-02 each, A O'Shea, A Freeman, C O'Connor 0-01 each
Cork: D Goulding 0-07, P O'Neill, J Miskella 0-02 each, S Kiely, F Lynch, P Kerrigan 0-01 each
MAYO: R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, A Feeney, K Higgins; R Feeney, G Cafferkey, L Keegan; A O'Shea, J Killcullen; K McLoughlin, A Dillon, A Moran; C O'Connor, A Freeman, J Doherty.
Subs used: E Reilly, J Gibbons, E Varley, P Gardiner, A Campbell.
CORK: K O'Halloran, R Carey, J O'Sullivan, M Shields; S Kiely, N O'Leary, E Caddigan; A O'Connor, J Fitzpatrick; F Goold, K O'Driscoll, P O'Neill; D Goulding, F Lynch, P Kerrigan.
Subs used: J Miskella, D O'Sullivan, P O'Flynn.
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare)