Last-gasp Kilduff breaks Longford hearts
Dundalk 4 Longford Town 3
If Dundalk could have handpicked the opposition to play in their final league match before they turn their attentions to European matters next week, then no doubt they would have gone for Longford Town.
Tony Cousins' side did hold the champions scoreless in the corresponding fixture at Oriel Park last August but, sitting four points adrift at the bottom of the table, without a win since the opening night of the season, the midlanders were ranked by some bookmakers as 25/1 to win at Oriel Park.
However, football is not quite as straightforward as that and when a thrilling game drifted into the 90th minute, the visitors were on course to leave the border venue with what would have been the unlikeliest of points.
However, Ciaran Kilduff's stoppage-time header broke Longford hearts and propelled Dundalk nine points clear of Cork City at the top of the Premier Division table, albeit having played two games more.
It looked like Dundalk were in for a straightforward night when they broke the deadlock after 11 minutes.
Patrick McEleney's pinpoint delivery to the back post found David McMillan and he headed past Paul Skinner.
The visitors, however, stunned the home support by drawing level with their first attempt on goal in the 35th minute.
Kealan Dillon's corner found Lee Duffy at the near post and his flick whistled past Gary Rogers to send the teams in all square at the break.
Dundalk edged in front after four minutes of the restart. Sean Gannon provided the ammunition from the right, McMillan meeting it with a brilliant glancing header that left Skinner with no chance.
Longford drew level for the second time in the 55th minute. Dillon was the provider again, his corner landing kindly for Noel Haverty to fire home.
McMillan bagged his second hat-trick in the space of four days in the 63rd minute, heading past Skinner for the third time but some comical defending at the other end undid Dundalk again.
Andy Boyle and Gary Rogers made a complete mess of dealing with another Dillon set-piece and Rhys Gorman was on hand to prod the ball home with 16 minutes to play.
It looked like Longford would leave with a deserved share of the spoils until Kilduff popped up with what could be a priceless winner come the end of the season.
Dundalk - Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Finn, O'Donnell; Mountney (Meenan 60), McEleney (Kilduff 79), Horgan; McMillan (Shields 90).
Longford Town - Skinner; Dillon, Gorman, Haverty, O'Reilly, Powell; McGlynn (O'Connor 66), Gannon, Hughes; Duffy (O'Sullivan 63), Simon.
Ref - Dave McKeon.