New Dundalk boss Filippo Giovagnoli marked his first league game in charge with a hard fought win over Shelbourne at Oriel Park.
The Italian was in dreamland when his side raced into a two goal lead after just 11 minutes courtesy of goals from Michael Duffy and Brian Gartland.
However, that dream turned into a nightmare for Vinny Perth's replacement as a header from Dan Byrne and a Georgie Poynton penalty had Shelbourne back on level terms by the 24th minute.
Ultimately, the reigning league champions were not to be denied their first league win in 190 days, however, as a thunderbolt from Greg Sloggett just before the hour mark ensured that Giovagnoli became the first Dundalk boss since Ian Foster in March 2010 to win their first league match in charge.
The home side flew out of the traps with Michael Duffy giving them a fourth minute lead with what was his 50th goal in the SSE Airtricity League. The winger was allowed cut in off the left hand touchline all too easily on to his right foot and punished Shels for their complacency with a thunderous shot to the top right hand corner which gave Colin McCabe no chance.
With seven minutes it was 2-0 with Brian Gartland nodding Stefan Colovic's corner to the net for what was his 50th career goal.
To their credit, the visitors didn’t allow their heads to the drop and after Dayle Rooney had gone close moments earlier they pulled one back on 20 minutes. Former Lilywhite Georgie Poynton’s free kick was met by the inrushing Dan Byrne who sent a bullet header past Aaron McCarey.
Ian Morris’ side were then level four minutes later when Gartland was adjudged to have pulled back Ciaran Kilduff from a corner. The decision looked a harsh one but Poynton stepped up to send McCarey the wrong way to make it 2-2.
Sean Murray and Ryan Brennan had efforts sail over at either end after that before Dundalk went close again within three minutes of the restart when Colovic’s teasing cross from the left was met by the outstretched leg of Duffy, who couldn’t get enough on it to direct it on target.
The lead was restored on 59 minutes, however, when Greg Sloggett picked Sean Quinn’s pocket before sending a thunderbolt strike to the top right hand corner past McCabe from 25-yards.
Once again Shelbourne refused to throw in the towel and after substitute Karl Sheppard had spurned a good chance from a free header they went close again on 67 minutes when Gary Deegan’s cross cannoned off Sean Hoare into the path of Luke Byrne only for the defender to be denied at close range by a last gasp Darragh Leahy intervention.
Dundalk were looking to kill the game themselves and could have done so on 77 minutes when Gartland’s ball out of defence was flicked on by the head of Sean Murray to put Daniel Kelly in on goal but he blazed over.
Kelly then almost turned provider for Sean Gannon six minutes later when he pulled back from the left to his fellow substitute only for the full back to scuff his left foot shot allowing McCabe to save.
There was a late push from the visitors but their best chance saw Dan Byrne head over from a corner deep in stoppage time as Dundalk held out for their first win since the restart of the league in late July.
Dundalk: Aaron McCarey; Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Chris Shields, Greg Sloggett; Stefan Colovic (Daniel Kelly 60), Sean Murray (John Mountney 82), Michael Duffy (Sean Gannon 82); David McMillan (Nathan Oduwa 75).
Subs not used: Gary Rogers, Will Patching, Joshua Gatt.
Shelbourne: Colin McCabe; Georgie Poynton, Alex O’Hanlon, Luke Byrne, Daniel Byrne; Gary Deegan (Oscar Brennan 87), Sean Quinn; Denzil Fernandes (Karl Sheppard 63), Ryan Brennan (Mark Byrne 63), Dayle Rooney (Jaze Kabia 76); Ciaran Kilduff (Aaron Dobbs 87).
Subs not used: Jack Brady, Daniel O’Reilly.