Dundalk maintained their 100% start to the season thanks to Patrick McEleney’s sensational strike against newly promoted Limerick at Oriel Park.
McEleney opened his account for the season with a sublime free-kick against Sligo six nights earlier but he topped that with an even better finish here in the 32nd minute.
The Limerick defence would have felt comfortable when he cut in from the right but the 24-year-old unleashed a stunning left-footed effort that had Freddy Hall grasping for thin air in the Blues goal.
The goal of the season contender maintained the champions’ 100% start to the new season but they were made work hard by Martin Russell’s side who contributed to an entertaining game.
The hosts had an early chance inside the opening two minutes but Robbie Benson headed wide from a good position after Limerick had failed to clear with a McEleney free kick.
The ball zipped around the new artificial surface, making for a lively start and Limerick winger Stephen Kenny almost beat Gabriel Sava with a dipping drive that just cleared the crossbar.
A stunning cross by Shaun Kelly just evaded Rodrigo Tosi minutes later. From the corner that followed, Sava recovered from losing the flight of the ball to make a good stop low down to deny Paul O'Conor.
The high tempo start continued and Paddy Barrett’s beautiful reverse pass from the back found McEleney who drove towards goal but his effort was well blocked by Robbie Williams for a fruitless corner.
McEleney then located Benson in a pocket of space outside the penalty area but his attempt didn’t have enough pace to beat Hall.
Michael Duffy then saw a drive deflected just wide of the upright on the half hour mark as Dundalk showed signs of making the breakthrough and they did that two minutes later when McEleney brought the house down.
The Derryman came close to a second in the 37th minute when he curled another left-footed effort at goal but this time his free kick went wide of the mark.
Limerick manager Martin Russell was up in arms when Tosi went down under pressure from Barrett in the Dundalk penalty area but referee Rob Harvey waved play on.
And his mood almost darkened right on the stroke of half time when the impressive Jamie McGrath went close with two quckfire attempts.
The second half opened in similar fashion to the first with McEleney and Kilduff almost combining to devastating effect.
At the other end, Dean Clarke tried to catch Sava out at the near post with a clever attempt from the left but the ‘keeper dealt with it well.
Tosi fired a warning shot in the 57th minute after Barrett sloppily gave the ball away in his own defensive third.
Hall was caught in no man’s land just short of the hour when he came to collect a cross. The ball evaded him but Kilduff just couldn’t divert the ball goalwards.
Robbie Benson almost made it 2-0 n when he burst forward only to see his guided effort drift agonisingly wide of Hall’s post.
Limerick remained very much in the game but they struggled to make any real clear cut openings.
Tosi was given room to connect with a cross from substitute Ian Turner in the 69th minute but the Brazilian couldn’t place his header either side of Sava.
The home supporters became anxious as the game drifted towards the final 10 minutes but Dundalk saw it out to extend their winning start to three games.
Dundalk: Gabriel Sava; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Paddy Barrett, Niclas Vemmelund; Conor Clifford, Robbie Benson; Jamie McGrath (John Mountney 66), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy (Chris Shields 81); Ciaran Kilduff (Thomas Stewart 74).
Subs not used: David McMillan, Dane Massey, Steven Kinsella, Ben Kelly (GK).
Limerick: Freddy Hall; Shaun Kelly, Robbie Williams, Tony Whitehead, Tommy Robson; Shane Duggan, Lee J Lynch, Paul O’Conor (Garbhan Coughlan 77); Stephen Kenny (Ian Turner 61), Rodrigo Tosi, Dean Clarke (Chiedozie Ogbene 82).
Subs not used: Chris Mulhall, Bastien Hery, Killian Brouder, Brendan Clarke (GK).