Their fate was not confirmed until Finn Harps' shock win at Bohemians later in the evening, but there was a sense of foreboding as the clock ticked down for Cork City at the Showgrounds on Saturday.
Cian Coleman got on the end of a flowing Cork attack in the 90th minute and saw his effort brilliantly saved by Sligo Rovers 'keeper Ed McGinty.
With it went Cork's last chance of getting anything from a game they desperately needed to win - and it was a fitting end to the game for McGinty, who earlier denied Kit Elliott from the penalty spot and also provided the assist for Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe's opener.
The penalty came after John Mahon handled inside the area after just eight minutes, but McGinty made himself big for the spot-kick and saved confidently.
The first goal followed soon after, ironically enough from some of the route-one style football that John Caulfield's Cork team were sometimes accused of favouring during their recent spell as title challengers.
McGinty sent it long and Cork's defence allowed it to bounce before Ogedi-Uzokwe struck first time to extinguish Cork's early spark.
The visitors did get a stroke of luck to pull themselves level just after the hour-mark, when Dylan McGlade's free-kick missed everyone in the area and wrong-footed McGinty.
But parity lasted just 10 more minutes until Ogedi-Uzokwe went over in the area under the challenge of Cork keeper Liam Bossin. Ronan Coughlan dispatched the penalty.
Harps' victory that evening confirmed Cork will end the season at the bottom, and interim boss Colin Healy could find few excuses.
"The silly goals that we gave away, the penalties that we missed, it's tough to take.
"The first goal, the keeper has kicked it 60 yards and we can't defend it. Then we get ourselves back in the game, and we give away a needless penalty
"We're at the bottom of the table for a reason."
SLIGO: McGinty, Banks, Buckley, Mahon, Donelon (Cooper 76), Seymore, Morahan, de Vries (Noone ht), Devers, Ogedi-Uzokwe, Coughlan.
CORK: Bossin, Olowu, O'Brien, O'Connor, Ochieng, Hurley (Bargary ht), Byrne (McGlade 60), Morrissey, Coleman, Elliott, O'Brien-Whitmarsh (Murphy 80).
REF: R Hennessy.