Kelly fires Dundalk to the brink
Waterford 0 Dundalk 1
Dundalk march towards their fifth title in six years as they racked up their seventh league win in a row at the RSC.
Waterford had their moments to cause an upset but failed to build on a promising start by conceding against the run of play seven minutes before the break.
Dan Kelly, who bagged a hat-trick on his last visit to the south-east, proved a menace again by supplying the solitary goal from close range.
Struggling Waterford couldn't build upon a bright opening.
Tom Holland's ball into the box on 12 minutes sprung Dundalk's offside trap but Michael O'Connor delayed his shot enough to smother the danger. Then Sam Bone missed a sitter by failing to connect with George Poyton's free-kick.
Eventually, the champions began to assert their control and grabbed the winner seven minutes before the break.
Rob Slevin was far too casual in trying to side-step the attention of Pat Hoban and only succeeded in slipping.
As Waterford appealed vainly for a foul, Hoban cut in towards goal before squaring to Kelly for a close-in finish.
The concession deflated any early momentum generated by a Waterford side without a home win in the league since May.
Zack Elbouzedi wasted a good chance from a free-kick shortly after the restart by blazing the ball over.
At the other end, the slick movement of the champions always posed a threat on the counter-attack.
Michael Duffy, having a quiet night aside from one first-half shot that veered over, darted to the end-line. His cutback found Kelly sprinting from the other side yet Kevin Lynch blocked the goal-bound shot.
Vinny Perth had the luxury of leaving out Patrick McEleney but the play-maker was only on the pitch as a substitute when he tested Connor with a low curler.
The Blues mustered a couple of late half-chances. Substitute Shane Duggan scuffed his shot with eight minutes left and Lilywhites defender Dean Jarvis was on hand to block Bone's effort after Rogers had spilled a routine cross.
WATERFORD: M Connor; S Bone, R Feely, R Slevin, K Lynch; T Holland (S Duggan 66), G Poynton; C Galvin (W Figueria 60), JJ Lunney (D O'Halloran 79), Z Elbouzedi; M O'Connor.
DUNDALK: G Rogers; S Gannon, A Boyle, D Cleary, D Jarvis; C Shields, R Benson (S Murray 83); D Kelly (P McEleney 79), J McGrath, M Duffy; P Hoban (G Kelly 87).
Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin)