Graham Burke was sprung from the bench to score the only goal of the game against relegated Longford Town at Bishopsgate to edge Shamrock Rovers ever closer to their 19th league title.
The laboured victory in difficult conditions of driving rain moves the champions 16 points clear at the top of the Premier Division table.
It means they can now seal the deal at home to Finn Harps at Tallaght Stadium next Friday, though they may not even have to wait until then should St Patrick’s Athletic lose at home to Dundalk on Monday night.
Though Rovers owned the ball in the first half, it was Longford who should have been ahead at the break with chances falling to Rob Manley, Aodh Dervin and Aaron Robinson.
Rovers continued to dominate possession into the second half, but didn’t spark until a triple substitution on 62 minutes when Dylan Watts, Danny Mandroiu and Burke were introduced.
Three minutes later they were ahead with Burke beginning and finishing the move.
The Hoops’ number 10 sent Rory Gaffney clear on the right to cross for Mandroiu. And though his close range shot was brilliantly parried by Lee Steacy, Burke followed up to shoot to the net.
Longford refused to lie down and might have been level following a succession of corners on 76 minutes.
Substitute Aaron Dobbs looked set to score as he met Grimes delivery only to plant his header over the top.
Despite playing virtually the whole match with ten men, Finn Harps staged a dramatic late fight back to earn a 2-2 draw with Sligo Rovers in Ballybofey.
It looked ominous for the home side as early as the fourth minute when defender Kosovar Sadiki was shown a straight red card for a foul on Johnny Kenny.
Kenny should then have put Sligo ahead five minutes before the break from a penalty awarded for a foul on him by Mark Coyle.
Harps got a reprieve when the 18-year-old’s poor spot kick was saved by the legs of Mark McGinley.
Kenny redeemed himself two minutes into the second half when