Irish Premiership: Cliftonville 4-2 Ards
Cliftonville's deadly double act of Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley started the season with a bang by scoring two each in the opening day win over Ards.
Gormley pounced for a 10th-minute opener and then made it 2-0 before Ben Roy pulled one back for Ards with a cracking top corner finish.
Boyce shot in Cliftonville's third and then produced a skilful mazy run and calm acute angle finish for 4-1.
McDowell got the second for Ards after the Reds had failed to clear.
Jaimie McGovern had a chance to get the ball away after a shot had been blocked but made a mess of it and McDowell pounced.
So it was a case of normal business resumed for Tommy Breslin's champions as they begin the defence of the Premiership title they won in style last April.
Cliftonville's last goal will be a big talking point for the Reds fans as it underlined the talent which earned Boyce a string of end-of-season awards.
Boyce weaved his way in from the bye-line on the left and got past several defenders and keeper Graeme McKibben before nonchalantly flicking his finish into the net.
That ended any hopes newly-promoted Ards had of getting something from their first top-flight fixture since 2006.
"We have shown what we can do at this level, but we know we need to get points," said Ards scorer McDowell.
"The harsh lesson is you have to take your chances at this level and any mistakes you make a likely to be punished.
"We feel we let ourselves down by giving away from sloppy goals."