Cork manager Ronan McCarthy highlighted the impact of coach Cian O'Neill as the Rebel footballers made it three wins from three in Division Three.
An attendance of 1,658 saw Cork have five points to spare on Down at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, despite finishing with 13 men after Seán White's sending-off and Kevin Crowley's injury-enforced departure late on.
The result leaves them a point ahead of Longford and three clear of Down, Derry and Tipperary. McCarthy saw a maturity in the way his team closed out the game.
"You are seeing a lot in the team of Cian's coaching, he's great at getting the players to play different scenarios in training," he said.
"It is those scenarios they have come across and they know what to do and how to see it out. This was about hanging on with 13, keep pressing them, keep forcing them to take shots under pressure, and if we could break out, break out.
"I thought we did that well. It was a more mature aspect of the performance, relative to previous years."
Down's Donal O'Hare had the game's opening score in the second minute but the Mourne Men would go scoreless until just before half-time, with Cork taking control in the interim. The conditions were at their worst in the opening quarter and Down found it difficult to make any headway.
John O'Rourke, Cathail O'Mahony, Damien Gore, Brian Hartnett, Tom Clancy and Ciarán Sheehan all had points for Cork while Sheehan might have had a goal too, shooting wide from a tight angle after Seán Powter had done well to set him up.
Tadhg Corkery and Kevin Crowley impressed in the Cork defence and, after Owen McCabe got Down's second point on 33, Ruairí Deane rounded off the half to leave the Rebels six ahead at the break.
Captain Ian Maguire, prominent throughout, extended the advantage on the resumption and though Darren O'Hagan and Paul Devlin did cut the gap to five, Cork had four of the next five points.
Corkery made it 0-13 to 0-5 on 45, and sub Colm O'Callaghan might have had a goal but for a good Rory Burns save. Soon after that, Cork lost White to a second yellow but Maguire's second point ensured they led by nine.
In the closing stages, there was a Down revival, as O'Hare and Darren O'Hagan had points before Barry O'Hagan's ball goalwards broke to allow Cory Quinn to fire home.
That left four in it, 0-15 to 1-8, but Down came no closer, with Luke Connolly slotting over a free from near the sideline. They finished with 13 as they lost Crowley to injury, but their supremacy wasn't in question.
"We didn't downplay the significance of the game to the players," McCarthy said. "We felt if we could win today, it would really put us in pole position for the remainder of the league. Having bigged up the game beforehand, I am not going to sit here afterwards and say it is not important."
Down manager Paddy Tally felt that his team struggled in the first half against the wind.
"It was difficult," he said. "At the start of the match, we were playing into the wind and the rain, to be honest with you it was very difficult and I think the breeze dropped a bit in the second half.
"It was very hard to get a grip on the game in the first half, Cork were physically strong and high on the press. In saying that, in the first ten minutes we could have had three points and we didn't do it.
"If we had started stronger, maybe we could have got more of a foothold. Cork won the toss and took the breeze and that left them in a really good position. It means you can play yourself into the game, you have the wind at your back."
Scorers - Cork: D Gore, C O'Mahony 0-3 (2f) each, I Maguire 0-2, L O'Donovan, T Clancy, T Corkery, B Hartnett, R Deane, J O'Rourke, C Sheehan (f), L Connolly (f) 0-1 each. Down: C Quinn 1-1, D O'Hare (1f), O McCabe, D O'Hagan 0-2 each, P Devlin 0-1.
CORK - M Martin 7; L O'Donovan 8, T Clancy 7, K Crowley 8; T Corkery 8, S Powter 8, M Taylor 7; I Maguire 8, B Hartnett 7; R Deane 7, S White 6, J O'Rourke 6; D Gore 7, C Sheehan 6, C O'Mahony 7. Subs: C O'Callaghan 6 for Sheehan (50), L Connolly 7 for Deane (52), P Kerrigan 7 for Gore (55), K O'Hanlon 6 for O'Rourke (58), C Kiely 6 for Powter (62).
DOWN - R Burns 7; G Collins 6, P Murdock 7, R McAleenan 6; S Annett 7, D O'Hagan 8, J Flynn 6; C Poland 6, O McCabe 7; B O'Hagan 6, P Devlin 7, D Guinness 6; K McKernan 6, D O'Hare 6, J Johnston 6. Subs: L Kerr 6 for Annett (ht), C Quinn 7 for McKernan (ht), S Dornan 6 for Devlin (49), J Guinness 6 for Collins (50), L Middleton 6 for Poland (66).
ref - B Tiernan (Dublin).