Having won twice in Inchicore last year, Waterford made it a hat-trick of wins by the Camac as Kevin O'Connor punished St Patrick’s Athletic on their home patch.
A Robbie Benson mistake early in the second half gifted Blues the only goal of the night.
Veteran keeper Brian Murphy then marked his return to the domestic game with two stunning saves to ensure Waterford went home with the three points on the opening night of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division campaign.
Both starting XIs reflected the ample transfer movement at the respective clubs in the close season, St Pat’s featuring six new signings while Waterford started no fewer than nine.
A feisty, if fitful, opening to the game saw referee Sean Grant brandish yellow cards to Saints’ Jamie Lennon and Scott Allardice of Waterford inside seven minutes as the sides wasted little time in getting acquainted.
Shading the early exchanges, Blues forced the first corner of the game before skipper Michael O’Connor looped a header over the top from Kevin O’Connor’s right flank delivery to register the first chance 15 minutes in.
Soon after, a corner of their own at the other end brought St Pat’s’ first sight of goal.
What a way to start the season @WaterfordFCie 🙌— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) February 14, 2020
Big win at @stpatsfc 😎
Kevin O'Connor's goal ⤵️#LOI | #GreatestLeagueInTheWorld pic.twitter.com/APmz3XeWMH
Chief winter signing Benson drilled the ball back to the edge of the area for Jay McClelland to strike a powerful left-foot drive into a forest of bodies in the box with Waterford scrambling the loose ball clear.
With St Pat’s having got a foothold in the game, the visitors had another let off just past the half hour mark.
Martin Rennie laid off Brendan Clarke’s long clearance to Dean Clarke whose audacious 40-yard effort, though catching Murphy off his line, was just off target.
Rennie might then have done better when getting a clear shot on goal following Billy King’s work in from the left only to shoot weakly, straight at Murphy.
An unfortunate mistake brought the goal the game cried out for four minutes into the second half.
Benson’s under hit back pass was pounced on by Blues’ striker Matt Smith.
He took the ball round keeper Clarke to pull it back from the end line for Kevin O’Connor to fire low to the empty net.
Stung, St Pat’s almost hit back within a minute as Murphy was worked at his near post by Dean Clarke following skipper Ian Bermingham’s run and cross.
St Pat’s were then incensed when not awarded a penalty after Andre Burley appeared to drag Rory Feely to the ground.
After Feely was booked for his protest, the defender met a corner from King with a header to bring a brilliant save from Murphy.
Bermingham headed over from King’s cross on 65 minutes as St Pat’s vigorously chased the game.
Ronan Hale had a header cleared off the line by Tyreke Wilson on 76 minutes as the home side’s frustration rose.
Fellow substitute Chris Forrester thought he’d found an equalise on 83 minutes only to see Murphy pull off another terrific save to tip the shot round a post.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Luke McNally, Rory Feely, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Dean Clarke (James Doona 79), Jamie Lennon (Ronan Hale 67), Robbie Benson, Billy King; Jay McClelland (Chris Forrester 55); Martin Rennie.
Waterford: Brian Murphy; Sam Bone, Andre Burley, Akinwale Odimayo, Tyreke Wilson; Ali Coote, Scott Allardice, Kevin O’Connor, Robbie McCourt; Michael O’Connor, Matthew Smith (Darragh Power 79).
Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford)