A goal in either half from two very different players sealed the fate of the newly-promoted team. Handing the Buccaneers the lead in the first half was rising star and South African national Under-23 striker Bongani Ndulula.
The second half goal was scored by a player in the twilight of his career and on his Pirates debut, McCarthy.
And while Pirates may have got off to the perfect start in the defence of their League title with maximum points in their opening match, the goal scored by McCarthy will be the biggest news coming out of this game.
Pirates certainly started the better of the two teams as they passed the ball around nicely, and duly got the opener after just 11 minutes.
Daine Klate whipped in a free-kick from the right flank and goalkeeper Azwindin Maphaha fluffed his punch into the path of Ndulula, who was quick to slot the ball into an empty net.
The rest of the half, however, saw Leopards the better side and they had three golden scoring chances.
In the 24th minute Edgar Manaka forced a great save from Moeneeb Josephs, who was at full stretch to his left to make a finger-tip save.
Four minutes later and a quick counter-attack started by Mongezi Bobe ended with Thabo Mongalo trying to chip the keeper from the edge of the box, but he saw his effort just skim the wrong side of the post.
Just before half-time Mongalo should really have found the back of the net. The striker found himself in a one-on-one situation with Josephs, but fired his shot straight at the keeper.
The second 45 minutes saw no side really take the ascendancy until Pirates found the back of the net in the 71st minute; again the goal coming because of a mistake made by Maphaha.
The Leopards keeper failed to collect the ball on the right edge of the box, which allowed Oupa Manyisa to steal it from him and play a cross into the box which found its way to McCarthy at the back post, and the seasoned striker made no mistake from only a couple of yards out.
After that the game petered out and Pirates ended the match victorious. Still, had it not have been for two silly mistakes by the keeper and some better finishing from their strikers, Leopards could have at least earned something from the match.