Barring a collapse to mirror the one that befell them in 2020, Shelbourne will win the First Division, but their alarming loss of form will give Galway United a glimmer of belief.
Goals from Shane Doherty, Killian Brouder and Ruairi Keating put an insipid Shels in their place, Brian McManus' reply a mere consolation at Galway ran out 3-1 winners. United can only rue the defeat to Cork City last weekend; with seven points between the two sides, eight rounds of matches only remaining, their hopes of a first First Division title are slim.
However, a run of six games with just one win, in which the Reds failed to beat Cobh at home and bowed meekly out of the FAI Cup to UCD, certainly suggests some problem or other given their form earlier this term.
United, despite the defeat to Cork, are the form team in the second tier, but is it too late? Most of the noisy capacity crowd of 800 have not given up.
United's first chance was their first goal and it came 12 minutes in. The returning American Doherty, recalled to the first 11 in Mikey Place's place, prodded home at the back stick from a teasing Conor O'Keeffe cross.
Shels, for whatever reason, have rather lost form of late and midway through the half they lost JJ Lunney too.
Hugely influential here earlier in the season, the Dubliner went off injured, with Georgie Poynton, admittedly, hardly a bad replacement.
It was a half of few chances. Killian Brouder's long throws are unusual in that rarely do you see a centre-half tasked with such duties; they are useful for United, however, resulting in Mikey Rowe blasting towards Eyre Square instead of in with five minutes to go before the break.
A really disappointing Shels fashioned something of a chance in the next attack but Conor Kearns was soon content to watch Ryan Brennan's drive sail wide.
Lunney needed the help of crutches to walk off the pitch at half-time. The warmth of the greeting from the away fans reflected his fine campaign, one now possibly in the past tense.
United went two up six minutes into the second half. Big Brouder, who also netted against Cork City last weekend, bundled home a delightful David Hurley delivery from a well-worked corner. Replays suggested it may have come off a defender too.
Shels had a spell on top now. Ally Gilchrist, who struggled to deal with Wilson Waweru, forced Kearns to tip over midway through the half.
A little rain only made Noel Connolly's pristine Terryland surface all the more inviting for the top two teams in the division, but Shels continued to find the rhythm befitting a team seemingly running away with the league elusive.
To be fair to Shels, they kept going, and Brennan wasn't far off halving the deficit with seven minutes to debate. But, on the stroke of full time, the outstanding Hurley teed up substitute Ruairi Keating to superbly find the bottom corner.
In the next attack, Shels finally found the net, with McManus leaving Kearns with no chance.
Up next for the Reds is a really tricky tie against an in-form Bray Wanderers, after which things might be a little more interesting.
Galway United: Kearns; O'Keeffe, Brouder, Nugent, Walsh; McCormack, Hurley, Boylan; Doherty (Place 85), Waweru (Keating 65), Rowe (Cunningham 84).
Shelbourne: Clarke; Wilson, Gilchirst, Kouogun, O'Connor; En-Neyah (Molloy 62), Lunney (Poynton 22); McManus, Farrell, Rooney; Brennan;
Elsewhere Bray Wanderers kept the pressure up on Galway with a late show against Treaty United at the Carlisle Grounds.
Charlie Fleming pushed Sam Verdon in the back just inside the visitors' penalty area and referee Kevin O'Sullivan showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Conor Clifford stepped up and buried it low and left to give the hosts all three points.
UCD beat Athlone Town 6-0 at the Bowl with Colm Whelan contributing his third hat-trick of the season. Sam Todd opened the scoring in the twenty-fourth minute, with the former Finn Harps defender looping a header home off the post.
The second was a smartly finished effort from Whelan as he placed the ball past Michael Schlingermann from just outside the box and into the bottom left corner.
It was three just before the hour mark as Paul Doyle slipped the ball through to Liam Kerrigan, who dummied the Athlone goalkeeper before rolling the ball home. The Students' fourth was a breakaway goal as Whelan and Kerrigan combined before the former rounded Schlingermann and slotted home.
Second-half substitute Adam Lennon made it five shortly afterwards when his bullet header from a Kerrigan cross gave Schlingermann no chance. While Whelan, who was suspended last week, completed his hat-trick, poking home from close range after Doyle headed the ball across goal.
That is his 15th goal of the campaign for College.
It was similarly comfortable for Cork City as they overcame Cobh Ramblers 4-0 at Turners Cross. Beineon O'Brien-Whitmarsh scored the opener, latching onto a through ball to poke home past a hesitant Sean Barron.
They were two clear on 56 minutes when Barry Coffey finished from close range. But Dylan McGlade played a big part in the goal as he beat three Cobh defenders before seeing Barron save his initial effort.
And they had their third goal of the evening just two minutes later as Cian Murphy ran at the Cobh defence before finishing across Barron into the left corner. Coffey scored his second of the night inside the last five minutes as Cork broke from a Cobh free.
At Ferrycarrig Park Wexford secured just their second win of their league season as they beat Cabinteely 2-1. Kyle Robinson opened the scoring heading home from a Conor Crowely corner as the hosts took the lead on 58 minutes.
But it lasted just four minutes as Marty Waters drew the south Dubliners level. He headed home a Keith Dalton cross at the near post.
The Slaneysiders restored their lead on 69 minutes when Jack Moylan blasted home from 12 yards after controlling Jack Doherty's cross from the left, and it would prove to be the winning effort.