A second half Jason Byrne goal was all that separated Bray Wanderers and Shelbourne at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night, as the Seagulls got their season off to the perfect start.
Byrne came back to haunt his former club with a headed goal on 67 minutes, but Shelbourne's chances of a result were hampered by the first half sending off of Paul Crowley.
With no goals in the opening period, the half-time chatter was naturally dominated by the red card. With discipline a major problem for Shels last season, manager Alan Mathews will be dismayed at his new signing's dismissal.
The former Drogheda United captain went in hard on Daire Doyle close to the halfway line, leading referee Padraigh Sutton to show him a straight red on his debut.
Shels hadn't created many goalscoring opportunities before the sending off, so their ability to match the home side was severely dented by the loss of Crowley.
Wanderers, however, had several chances to make the best of their numerical supremacy before the break, but still went in level. Kieran Marty Waters was a constant threat to the Shels defence, going close on 36 minutes after a terrific Dean Zambra through ball played him in.
Glen Cronin averted the danger that time, but the Shels captain didn't last much longer as the injury which ruled him out of most of pre-season appeared to force him off just before half-time.
It always looked like Bray would dominate the second half, but it took them a while to break through a stubborn Shelbourne defence. Byrne, who was almost anonymous in the first half, had a goal ruled out for offside on 66 minutes.
Yet just a minute later the former Shels favourite gave the home side the lead. Waters was put in a good position on the right wing by a cute Zambra pass and the evergreen Byrne duly headed in at the near post.
Shels never really looked like equalising, but did have one big chance in the 80th minute. First, Mark Leech was unable to shoot before he was pulled down and then Kevin Knight heroically blocked Philly Hughes's shot inside the Shels box.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Eoin Hyland, Danny O'Connor (c) (Conor Earley 84), Kevin Knight, David Webster; Daire Doyle (Ismahil Akinade 59), Gary Dempsey, Kevin O'Connor, Dean Zambra, Kieran Marty Waters; Jason Byrne (Shane O'Neill 75).
Substitutes not used: Peter Thomas, Conor Earley, Paul Malone, Shane O'Neill.
Bookings: Shane O'Neill.
Shelbourne: Ger Hanley; Ian Ryan, Graham Gartland, Rob Cornwall (Brian Shortall 75), Jack Memery; Adam Hanlon, Paul Crowley, Glen Cronin (c) (Stephen Hurley 43), Robert Bayly, Alex Prizeman (Mark Leech 75); Philip Hughes.
Substitutes not used: Niall Burdon, Craig Mooney, Sean Brennan, Dean Kelly.
Bookings: Glen Cronin, Stephen Hurley.
Sent Off: Paul Crowley
Referee: Padraigh Sutton.
Attendance: 1,200 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Kieran Marty Waters (Bray Wanderers).