John Caulfield secured a victory against Finn Harps on the night in which he took charge of Cork City for the 100th time. A Sean Maguire goal on the brink of half time got the Leesiders off to the perfect start in this hard fought victory and they held on after Garry Buckley was dismissed midway through the second half.
Four first time debutants for Finn Harps with marquee signing Paddy McCourt on the bench, Jonny Bonner makes his second debut for the club having played for them before in the First Division. John Caulfield meanwhile named three debutants in his starting line-up with a further two named on the bench. Ryan Delaney on loan from Burton Albion starts in the centre of defence.
Finn Harps started the match brightly and with aid from the wind, created a number of early chances with the Cork City defence holding firm.
The heavy rain that threatened the games go ahead earlier in the week returned during the match and was creating a few slips and tumbles early on.
Kevin O'Connor had the first shot of the match on target, after a scramble in the penalty area, it fell to O'Connor with his low driven effort going straight into the hands of Ciaran Gallagher.
Harps went close on the half hour mark, a set piece from Jonny Bonner went untouched through the crowd of bodies and rolled past the post, the slightest knick could have taken it in.
Cork City took the lead on the stroke of half time thanks to Sean Maguire. A mix up in the Harps defence left the ball unaccompanied and Maguire was quick to pounce and slot the ball past the sprawled Ciaran Gallagher.
City began the second half the way they ended the first, with heavy pressure. It almost paid dividends moments after the restart with a goal mouth scramble leading to a deflected close range shot rebounding off the post.
Harps' new boy Caolon McAleer troubled the Cork goal moments later. After a mazy run through the defence, his shot stung the hands of Mark McNulty.
Harps fans had their wishes granted with just over twenty minutes to go as Paddy McCourt replaced Sean Houston.
Cork City were reduced to 10 men with less than twenty minutes to go, a second booking for Garry Buckley for a high tackle on Ciaran O'Connor.
Cork City nearly doubled the lead late on, a Sean Maguire shot was parried on to the post, which resulted in an attempted clearance from Ethan Boyle, which hit Maguire and then off the post once more.
Cork City held out despite late pressure from Finn Harps, with Sean Maguire’s goal sealing the win.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Damien McNulty, Ciaran Coll, Kilian Cantwell, Ethan Boyle; Jonny Bonner, Caolon McAleer, Sean Houston (Paddy McCourt 68), Barry Molloy (Gareth Harkin76); Ciaran O'Connor, Danny Morrissey (Eddie Dsane 76).
Subs not used: Harry Doherty (gk), Packie Mailey, Mickey Funston, Tommy McMonagle.
Booked: McNulty (12), Cantwell (35), O'Connor (45).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Johnny Dunleavy, Ryan Delaney, Conor McCormack, Kevin O'Connor; Jimmy Keohane, Garry Buckley, Greg Bolger (Karl Sheppard 68), Gearoid Morrissey, Stephen Dooley (Alan Bennett 89); Sean Maguire.
Subs not used: Alan Smith (gk), Achille Campion, Steven Beattie, Connor Ellis, Shane Griffin.
Booked: Bolger (34), Buckley (56, 71), O'Connor (67).
Sent Off: Buckley (71)
Referee: Robert Harvey
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Sean Maguire (Cork City)