Ten-man Cork City’s title defence started with a dramatic victory before a large crowd in the Richmond Park rain.

Goals from Barry McNamee and Graham Cummins had the champions in apparent control but the latter was sent off before Ian Bermingham and Conan Byrne helped restore parity – all of this in the opening 46 minutes.

Pat’s looked for a late winner but substitute Jake Keegan had his shot bravely blocked by Shane Griffin before Kieran Sadlier’s corner-kick seemed to go all the way in with eight minutes left. 

A frantic opening saw Cork go ahead after three minutes. Cummins sprinted down the right and crossed for McNamee, who – just like last Sunday against Dundalk – ghosted in at the back post to slot in.

Byrne forced a fine Mark McNulty save before Cummins made it 2-0. Kevin Toner, whose battle with Cummins would involve quite a bit of needle, was unable to clear a Sheppard knock-on and Cummins blasted home on the volley.

Pat’s would have felt sorry for themselves as they has been excellent notwithstanding the concession of the two goals but things changed markedly on 26 minutes when Cummins appeared to leave an arm in high in a challenge with Toner and was sent off.

Pat’s were back in the game and all the more 11 minutes shy of the break when Byrne’s cross was deflected in, with many in the ground believing Aaron Barry to have knocked it into his own net, but Bermingham was credited with the goal. Soccer Republic can clarify matters on Monday evening.

Byrne seems to get better with age and put the Saints level just after the break. Jimmy Keohane, a surprise starter in the City side, made a hash of a clearance before Byrne composed himself and drilled home with his left foot. He missed another decent opening soon afterwards but failed to connect, again on his left.

Seventeen minutes into the second half, Owen Garvan’s sumptuous ball deserved a better finish from Dean Clarke, before Ian Turner’s bicycle kick also went wide.

Cork improved after Gearoid Morrissey’s introduction and grabbed an unlikely winner via Sadlier’s corner-kick which seemed to evade everyone and went in.

St Patrick's Athletic: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Kevin Toner, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Ian Turner (Jake Keegan 65), Graham Kelly (Brendan Markey 65), Ryan Brennan, Owen Garvan, Conan Byrne, Dean Clarke (James Doona 78).

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Alan Bennett, Aaron Barry, Shane Griffin, Conor McCormack, Jimmy Keohane (Gearoid Morrissey 65), Barry McNamee, Karl Sheppard, Graham Cummins, Kieran Sadlier.

Referee: Robert Harvey (Tipperary).