A goal from Sean Maguire in the last minute of the first half set 10-man Cork City on their way to a useful season opening Premier Division win at Finn Harps.

Maguire toe-poked past Ciaran Gallagher from close range on 44 minutes - in a rare pocket of space in the Harps penalty area - following a flick-on from Jimmy Keohane.

The visitors had to play the last 15 minutes as Garry Buckley was given a second yellow card.

Then, in the last minute, Maguire somehow struck the Harps post twice in succession – the second when an attempted clearance struck off of him - after Steven Dooley had nipped possession from Gareth Harkin.

In wretched conditions of swirling wind and rain on a heavy pitch that passed two inspections during the day at Finn Park, the home side seldom yielded.

Cork, though, stood up to the challenge and the capturing of three points would’ve shaved a few miles off their long journey home down the west coast.

Harps manager Ollie Horgan resisted the temptation to start with former Derry City, Celtic and Barnsley legend Paddy McCourt, who signed for the club last week. The 33-year-old was thrown into the fray with 20 minutes to play in a bid to salvage something for Harps.

Chances were few and far between in the first half. Jonny Bonner returned to Harps from Wexford Youths in the close season and could only hammer a free-kick into the bleak night air. At the other end, Stephen Dooley was similarly off target.

FAI Cup holders Cork got the first shot on goal of the contest – a meek enough Kevin O’Connor effort that Ciaran Gallagher in the Harps goal gathered easily – on 28 minutes.

Keohane also had a pop at goal, only to see his shot trickle barely as far as Gallagher five minutes before the interval.

Cork, fresh from a 3-0 win over Dundalk in the President’s Cup seven nights beforehand, found it understandably difficult to get into any sort of concerted rhythm with the conditions and some familiar physical welcomes to  the Twin Towns.

Damien McNulty and Killian Cantwell, the Harps central defensive partnership, both picked up yellow cards before the break for fouls on Maguire.

However, Maguire made his class tell right at the end of the half to put Cork 1-0 up as the players scurried for the dressing rooms. It would prove to be the only goal of the game.

Right at the start of the second half, an O’Connor corner with a Maguire header caused serious consternation in the Harps penalty area.

In the end, Barry Molloy cleared after an almighty scramble with Ryan Delaney having a swing amid a crowd of muddy jerseys and the ball plodding off the base of the Harps goalpost.

Cork goalkeeper Mark McNulty was eventually called into action three minutes prior to the hour when Caolan McAleer powered a shot goalwards.

Cork, before and after Buckey’s sending off, still came closest to a second goal.

Beforehand, Conor McCormack was denied by Gallagher, who stayed on his feet as long as possible. Afterwards, Maguire couldn’t believe how he hadn’t managed to steer home a second in the last incident of note.

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Ethan Boyle, Damien McNulty, Killian Cantwell, Ciaran Coll; Caolan McAleer, Sean Houston (Paddy McCourt 70), Barry Molloy (Gareth Harkin 77), Jonny Bonner; Danny Morrissey (Eddie Dsane 77), Ciaran O’Connor.

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Conor McCormack, Johnny Dunleavy, Ryan Delaney, Kevin O'Connor; Jimmy Keohane, Gearoid Morrissey, Greg Bolger (Karl Sheppard 70), Steven Dooley (Alan Bennett 90); Garry Buckley; Sean Maguire.

Referee: Robert Harvey