Dundalk reclaimed second spot from Bray Wanderers in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division after a Dave McMillan brace saw them eventually run out worthy 3-0 winners at the Markets Field.
New Limerick boss Neil McDonald only landed on Shannonside yesterday morning, so leaned on Willie Boland to name the 11 to face the champions.
Barry Cotter was selected to make his league debut for the Blues, while star striker Rodrigo Tosi was dropped for Chris Mulhall.
Dundalk were unchanged from their 4-0 win over Sligo Rovers last week.
The game was slow to begin with, the hosts giving as good as they got but a bizarre red card inside 20 minutes changed the flow of the match completely.
Brendan Clarke swept up danger from a Dundalk attack 30 yards from his own goal, but the ball only fell as far as the feet of Michael Duffy. The winger looked up and saw Clarke struggling to get back and shot.
Clarke reached up and handled outside the box - preventing the goalbound effort from putting the champions ahead. Referee Paul McLaughlin duly sent the veteran stopper off.
Ten minutes later, the visitors took the lead. Patrick McEleney dazzled as he glided his way into the Limerick area, turning Paul O’Conor and Barry Cotter inside-out. O’Conor slid in and the creative midfielder went down under the challenge.
Dave McMillan rolled the penalty past Limerick sub keeper Freddy Hall.
The result was put to bed before the end of the first half when McMillan brought his tally to eight league goals for the season.
Michael Duffy ran into space down the Limerick left flank before looking up to see McMillan’s near-post run.
The cross was drilled and an emphatic nod from the frontman doubled the Dundalk lead as the small band of Dundalk fans behind the goal celebrated.
The second half was as one-sided as you’d expect, with Chiedozie Ogbene being the only outlet for the Blues as they soaked up relentless pressure.
McMillan could have completed his hat-trick five minutes inside the second half, but a combination of Freddy Hall and the crossbar denied him.
Sean Gannon netted a third in the last minute of normal time to add gloss to the scoreline.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Barry Cotter (Ian Turner, 78), Paul O'Conor, Robbie Williams, Tommy Robson; Bastien Hery, Shane Duggan; Chiedozie Ogbene, Lee-J Lynch (Freddy Hall, 20), Dean Clarke; Chris Mulhall (Rodrigo Tosi, 68)
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Niclas Vemmelund (Sean Gannon, 68), Paddy Barrett, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey;Robbie Benson (Stephen O’Donnell, 60), Chris Shields; Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleney, Jamie McGrath; Dave McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff, 85)
Referee: Paul McLaughlin