Darren Meenan grabbed a 76th-minute winner as Dundalk secured the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division spoils against Limerick at Thomond Park, 2-1.

Though Limerick had started in promising fashion it was Dundalk who netted the opener in the 15th minute courtesy of a Brian Gartland goal.

But the Blues were back on terms in the 30th minute when Shane Tracy converted a penalty following a foul on Danny Galbraith.

In the 57th minute Limerick's Barry Ryan saved a Richie Towell penalty, but Dundalk remained patient as Meenan landed the decisive blow to put the Louth side top of the table. 

Having lost the Setanta Cup final to Sligo Rovers last Saturday Dundalk were keen to make an early impact.

Stephen Kenny's side have forged a reputation as a clever passing outfit, but Limerick were direct, initially causing the visitors some problems.

Only three minutes had elapsed when Robbie Williams' long delivery was headed down by Rory Gaffney to Shane Tracy, who forced a fine save from Peter Cherrie.

Then a Tracy corner found Gaffney in a packed area, but the striker was unable to guide his header on target.

Gaffney went close in the 10th minute when his splendid 20 yard shot came within a whisker of giving Limerick the lead.

But it was Dundalk who hit the front on the quarter hour mark as Richie Towell's free kick was met by a Dane Massey header and Gartland nudged the Lilywhites ahead.

Limerick needed Barry Ryan to make an excellent save to thwart Towell in the 28th minute before the Blues got back on terms courtesy of Tracy's crisp left-footed spot-kick.

Ten minutes after the restart Ryan palmed away a Patrick Hoban header following a Meenan corner.

Dundalk then spurned a glorious chance when Shaun Kelly handled in the area, but Towell's penalty was brilliantly saved by Ryan.

Meenan and Hoban had other openings, but Ryan was inspired between the sticks keeping Limerick in the contest.

But substitute David McMillan's pass enabled Meenan to score in the 76th minute as Limerick's spirited resistance was shrugged off.

Limerick: Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Tony Whitehead, Stephen Folan, Robbie Williams; Shane Duggan (Tam McManus, 79), Prince Agyemang, Jason Hughes; Shane Tracy (James McGrath, 65), Rory Gaffney, Danny Galbraith (Darragh Rainsford, 89). 

Subs not used: Shane Cusack, Patrick Nzuzi, Mick Leahy, Kieran Hanlon.

Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Darren Meenan, Chris Shields, Richie Towell, Daryl Horgan; Kurtis Byrne (Ruaidhri Higgins, 87), Patrick Hoban (David McMillan, 72).

Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Keith Ward, Mark Griffin, Simon Kelly, Mark Rossiter.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).