Daniel Kelly's goal in first half stoppage time saw Dundalk claim a huge three points in their battle to avoid the drop against fellow strugglers Waterford at Oriel Park.
The 25-year-old broke clear in the 47nd minute to slot past Paul Martin, who was the primary reason that this wasn’t a more comfortable victory for the Co Louth side.
The goal continued Kelly’s brilliant form against the Blues. It was the Dundalk number 27’s 27th career goal with seven of them now coming against the men from the RSC.
While the game went right to the wire as the home side failed to add the second that their efforts deserved, it is a huge result for Vinny Perth’s side in their bid to avoid the relegation play-off.
While they have played a game more than everyone bar champions Shamrock Rovers, this result puts them three points clear of Marc Bircham’s side and four clear of ninth placed Finn Harps, who lost in Tallaght.
Indeed, Dundalk could well leapfrog their Co Louth rivals Drogheda Utd and move level on points with Derry City if they beat them in their rescheduled fixture at Head in the Game Park on Thursday.
While protests against the running of the club continued amid speculation of a potential takeover, this result at least gives hope that a season to forget to Dundalk may at least end with their Premier Division status secure.
In what was a lively opening, the hosts were first to threaten on six minutes. After Patrick Hoban's cross was fresh-aired by Sean Murray, it broke to Kelly whose initial effort was blocked by Jack Stafford before he volleyed the follow up wide.
Waterford then had a couple of half chances with Junior firing wide before Phoenix Patterson had an effort deflect wide off Raivis Jurkovskis.
Michael Duffy then curled an shot just wide before Junior fired another effort just over from range on 13 minutes.
From the resultant kick-out from Peter Cherrie, Murray seized on a short header back by Kyle Ferguson but with Paul Martin coming out to close him down, he couldn’t hit the target with his first-time effort.
Kelly then got in behind four minutes later and appeared to be pulled down after lifting the ball over Paul Martin but referee John McLoughlin instead awarded a free out.
Greg Sloggett then headed over from a Murray corner before Stafford had another long range shot flash just over at the other end.
Dundalk then should have taken the lead on 38 minutes when Duffy picked out Kelly in the box. The winger stepped inside Stafford onto his left foot but with only the keeper to beat blazed over.
Kelly would make amends, however, in the second minute of stoppage time when he was put clear by a superb pass from Murray before slotting past the outrushing Paul Martin from the right hand corner of the box.
Waterford were then fortunate that things didn’t get worse before the interval when from the kick-off Hoban broke into the box only to fire over from a tight angle.
The striker then had another big chance within four minutes of the restart when he was slipped in by Will Patching but his effort was straight at the goalkeeper.
Martin then denied Dundalk once again on 52 minutes with a brilliant save from Andy Boyle after he had got on the end of Murray’s corner before Jurkovskis’ follow up was blocked.
Anthony Wordsworth then dragged a shot agonisingly across the face of goal at the other end before Paul Martin kept his side in it once more with a great double save on 61 minutes - firstly pushing Duffy’s effort away before saving the follow up from Hoban.
Waterford then began to pressurise themselves with Cherrie called into action to make a superb save to deny Junior an equaliser on 72 minutes, touching his effort over after he was played through one on one.
Substitute Sami Ben Amar then curled an effort just over before Wordsworth made a superb block to deny Murray three minutes from time.
Junior did have one last effort for Waterford in stoppage time but he was crowded out by three defenders as Dundalk held out for a huge win.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Raivis Jurkovskis, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Greg Sloggett (Cameron Dummigan 45+1), Will Patching; Daniel Kelly (Sami Ben Amar 74), Sean Murray, Michael Duffy, Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 85).
Waterford: Paul Martin; Darragh Power, Greg Halford, Kyle Ferguson (Niall O’Keeffe 62), Jack Stafford; Cameron Evans, Anthony Wordsworth; John Martin, Shane Griffin (Ronaldo Green 62), Phoenix Patterson; Junior Quitirna.
Referee: John McLoughlin (Roscommon).