Despite being reduced to 10 men, Cork City held St Patrick's Athletic to a 1-1 draw in a fiery opening game at Turner's Cross on Friday. The game, which was delayed for 10 minutes due to crowd congestion, was keenly contested, with both teams taking a share of the spoils.
It was Cork City who threatened in the early exchanges, with Anthony Elding working tirelessly in the lone striker role. The former Sligo Rovers striker provided the first effort on goal, but his shot floated harmlessly over the bar.
The hosts continued to hit St Pat's on the break and minutes later young Brian Lenihan latched onto a loose ball to surge into the opposing half but his cross was easily held by Brendan Clarke.
The champions began to exert their influence on proceedings and should have taken the lead after 13 minutes when Christy Fagan's flicked pass found Chris Forrester free in the area, but the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international scuffed his shot wide.
After a period of soaking up pressure, the Leesiders showed further glimpses of their counter-attacking ability just before the half-hour mark when Garry Buckley and Billy Dennehy linked up to create a tremendous chance. Buckley intercepted a stray ball in midfield and unloaded the ball to Elding before continuing his run into the box, but Dennehy's driven cross had too much pace for the midfielder.
Cork continued to press the Saints and carved out another chance when Colin Healy sprayed the ball out wide to Liam Kearney. However the winger's deft cross was just a fraction too close to Clarke.
St Pat's' chances were limited to set-pieces with Fahey stepping up on a number of occasions, but the Republic of Ireland international was uncharacteristically wasteful.
Cork eventually took the lead on 42 minutes through Garry Buckley. A floated cross from Healy was flicked on by Dunleavy and Buckley reacted quickest to knock the ball past Clarke.
St Pat's started the second half with greater impetus and had a chance to equalise when Ken Oman met a Conan Byrne corner, but the centre back's weak header did not trouble McNulty.
However, Cork soon began to trouble Liam Buckley's men with Liam Kearney showing great enthusiasm on his return to the League of Ireland. Five minutes into the half, the 31-year-old linked up well with Lenihan on the right hand side, but the defender over-ran the ball and was marshalled out of play by Bermingham.
The champions clawed back an equaliser on the hour mark with Lee Lynch showing great vision to find Fagan, who drew things level with a calm finish.
St Pat's should have taken the lead minutes later when Fagan eluded the attentions of Lenihan to tee up Forrester but once again the midfielder wasted the opportunity.
Cork City were later reduced to 10 men after 67 minutes as captain John Dunleavy picked up a second yellow for a late challenge on Ger O'Brien.
With an extra man, Pat's began to stretch the play in search of a winner, but Cork showed determination on the counter attack and won a free kick at the edge of the area on 80 minutes. Dennehy's shot blazed over, but the Leesiders held on well to take a hard-fought point.