Dundalk put their injury woes to one side with a commanding display against Waterford at Oriel Park on Friday night.
Already missing five recognised midfielders, head coach Vinny Perth also had to make do without winger Michael Duffy, who missed a league game for the first time since he arrived at the club in 2017.
Despite that, it took them just eight minutes to make the breakthrough, Patrick Hoban getting on the end of Sean Murray's fine cross to head past Hugo Keto and put the champions ahead for the first time this season.
The excellent Jamie McGrath had the ball in the Blues' net again six minutes later but the celebrations were cut short by referee Rob Harvey who blew for a handball in the build-up.
Dundalk continued to pose a threat and Keto had to make a fine stop to deny Sean Murray who picked the pocket of Bastien Hery and played a one-two with McGrath to get the shot away.
Alan Reynolds cut a frustrated figure on the sideline. The Blues boss, who felt play should have been stopped when a second ball bounced onto the field in the build up to Hoban's goal, watched his side struggle to impose themselves.
Waterford did show their teeth on the half hour when Zak Elbouzedi came in from the right to test Gary Rogers low down to his right. They had an even better opportunity shortly after but Aaron Drinan couldn't adjust his feet to meet Kevin Lynch's inviting cutback.
Dundalk punished them less than a minute later. Jordan Flores, who worked tirelessly on the left side of midfield, saw his cross half cleared and Murray found the bottom corner of the net with a crisp finish from 18 yards.
The second half was just minutes old when Hoban flashed a half volley over the top after meeting a Murray corner at the near post.
Waterford needed a moment of inspiration to bring themselves back into it and Drinan almost provided it, his powerful long-range effort forcing Rogers into an excellent stop.
The result was put beyond doubt in the 57th minute when McGrath sent Daniel Kelly clear and the winger made no mistake before substitute Cameron Dummigan added a fourth in the final minute, both players grabbing their first goals for the club.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Sean Hoare, Sean Murray; Daniel Kelly (Joe McKee 79), Jamie McGrath, Jordan Flores (Cameron Dummigan 76); Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 85).
Waterford: Hugo Keto; Rory Feely, Maxim Kouogun, Damien Delaney, Kevin Lynch; Shane Duggan (Cory Galvin 63), Bastien Hery, Jonathan Lunney; Aaron Drinan (Dean Walsh 73); Ishmahil Akinade (Scott Twine 63), Zak Elbouzedi.
Referee: Robert Harvey.