When Derry pounced for their only goal after 52 minutes, courtesy of Shea Downey’s explosive shot, Cork looked to be heading for a drubbing, trailing by 1-13 to 0-8 and conceding far too many scores for their liking.
Yet, they refused to panic and remained composed despite the imbalance on the scoreboard and Derry’s ultra-defensive approach with the sprinkling of substitutes injecting new life into the home display.
Fittingly, one of those, Conor Corbett, was heavily involved in the fightback with the first of his three points in that nine-minute spell, when Cork hit the visitors for 0-6 without response, and his second was deflected over by keeper Ryan Scullion in the 58th minute.
Gradually, Cork eroded Derry’s apparent impregnable lead as Colm O’Callaghan, Sean Powter and Killian O’Hanlon also registered points to make it 1-13 to 0-14 after 66 minutes.
Still, Paul Cassidy’s point just as the game was entering seven minutes’ injury time left a goal between the teams and Derry seemed safe until Ian Maguire got a touch to Cian Kiely’s lob to stun the visitors.
Just like in Ardee the previous week against Louth, Cork knew what they were facing when confronting Rory Gallagher’s charges, whose safety-first-approach is widely documented at this stage, regularly withdrawing all 15 players behind their own 45m line, when opponents have possession.
Yet, you couldn’t but be impressed by the manner in which they counter-attacked, a ploy also using keeper Ryan Scullion, who was frequently involved around the middle of the pitch and they gave Cork a master class in the tactic.
In the first half and in the early stages of the second period, they ran at the Cork defence and punctured holes in the home rear-guard for a succession of players to keep the scoreboard ticking along merrily.
At the start Niall Toner and Shane McGuigan up top impressed in the opening plays as they forced Cork to play catch up and on the resumption McGuigan, once again, along with three others extended their advantage to 0-13 to 0-6.
Still, from the 47th on, Derry could only manage to generate another 1-1 as Cork outscored them by adding 1-8 to share the points.
When Steven Sherlock stepped up to a difficult free from the left into the wind in the opening minute of the second half, seven Derry players stood with their hands in the air in the hope of putting him off. It worked, Sherlock’s free dropping left and wide.