Having had chances to take the lead early on through Kurtis Byrne and Richie Towell, Stephen Kenny’s side finally made the breakthrough in the 22nd minute when Pat Hoban applied the finish after visiting goalkeeper Ryan Coulter could only palm away a shot from Byrne.
Brian Gartland then doubled his side’s advantage in the 31st minute by heading home a Towell free kick and was unlucky not to have scored a second just before half-time when he headed to the net again only to see it ruled out for offside.
With one eye on Thursday’s Europa League trip to Croatia in mind, the Lilywhites took their foot off the gas in the second half but still managed to see out the game for another important three points.
Dundalk: Cherrie; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Meenan (McDermott 73), Shields, Towell, Horgan (Griffin 87); Byrne (Higgins 78); Hoban. Subs not used: Kelly, Mountney, Rossiter, Sava.
Athlone Town: Coulter; Quigley (Mulroney 80), Harney, D Brennan, Doyle; S Brennan (Ebbe 71), Dillon, Hughes, Clancy; O’Brien; Mulroy (Sweeney 71). Subs not used: Byrne, Dunne, Mahon, Marks.
Referee: D Tomney (Dublin).