Dundalk turned up the heat on Cobh Ramblers and Finn Harps with a narrow 1-0 win over Shelbourne in Oriel Park.
Robbie Doyle's 16th minute strike sent the Lilywhites to within three points of the Cork men who visit second placed Harps tonight in the knowledge that the border club are back in the hunt for the title.
In an entertaining opening half it was the visitors who had the first chance of the game when Mark Leech wrestled the ball from David Crawley but his attempted lob was well held by Chris Bennion.
However, the hosts replied instantly and Trevor Vaughan shot wastefully over after he had ghosted on to David Crawley's free at the back post.
The chances continued to flow as both sides concentrated on attack and only Mark Rooney will know how he failed to find the net on 10 minutes after Chris Bennion had failed to hold a ball over the top of the Dundalk defence.
Shelbourne were left to rue that missed opportunity just 6 minutes later as Robbie Doyle pounced on a mistake by Alan Keely to lob the ball over James Hussey.
The goal saw the hosts become a little more cautious and Aidan Lynch was having a superb game heart of the Lilywhites defence.
Shelbourne though were in confident form and Leech and Rooney both had decent chances late in the half but failed to seriously test Bennion.
The second half saw Dermot Keely spring Glen Lacey form the bench and the game continued to zip form one end to the other but it was the home side who came closest to a goal when John Flanagan rose unchallenged to head a Crawley free-kick over the bar.
The second half was a tense affair and Paul Marney should have secured the points when he broke clean through the Shels defence late on but he could not find a way past Hussey but the Lilywhites hung on for a vital three points.