Dundalk strengthened their outstanding chance of regaining the title with a pretty bloodless win on a balmy evening by the seaside as Bray Wanderers stare relegation in the face.

Though Jake Kelly gave the basement side some hope early in the second half, they went into the interval 2-0 down after goals from Patrick Hoban and Robbie Benson, before former Seagulls favourite Dylan Connolly sealed the points in the second half.

Dundalk, who visit Sligo on Monday to fulfil a game in hand they have on Cork City, are now a point ahead of the champions.

Bray suffered a serious blow even after they had named their team, with keeper Evan Moran suffering an injury in the warm-up, compelling rookie coach Gary Cronin to bring in rookie stopper Enda Minogue. Their task, already daunting, was made no easier by Patrick McEleney making his first league start since rejoining Dundalk from Oldham.

Minogue generally fared well, especially so on five minutes with a stunning save from a left-footed Hoban drive. 

However, the league's top scorer made no mistake after 17 minutes. A superb cross from Jamie McGrath met Hoban, who headed back across goal and in, at the far post. 

Sean Harding's drive was not far away from a free-kick but Bray soon went 2-0 behind. Benson tapped home on 27 minutes from a McGrath corner, the former UCD man left alone from point-blank range after Brian Gartland headed in his direction. 

Duffy tested Minogue, who held firm, on 29 minutes as Dundalk – with Chris Shields outstanding – continued to dictate, even with McEleney struggling and looking in need of more game time.

A beautiful Dundalk move just before the break ended up with Minogue fumbling a weak McGrath pot-shot when the latter really should have done better.

Shields, who never gave it away in the first 45, made a shocker of a blunder three minutes into the second and Kelly was only too happy to round Gary Rogers and tap in after Shields' under-hit backpass.

Bray now believed, but they were a little fortunate just after the hour-mark as a lovely curler from Duffy just edged over the bar.

Dundalk sealed the win on 75 minutes when Bray old boy Connolly – who had replaced McEleney – stretched willingly to convert a Hoban cross at the far post.

Bray Wanderers: Minogue, Lynch, Kenna, Heaney, Harding (Walsh 46), O'Connor, Gorman, O'Gorman (Ellis 81), Mamaliga (Noone 73), Kelly, Pender. 

Dundalk: Rogers, Massey, Gartland, Cleary, Gannon, Duffy, Shields, McEleney (Murray 61), Benson, McGrath (Connolly 46), Hoban (Kelly 86).

Referee: Damien McGraith (Dublin)

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