Two second-half goals from Ben McCormack either side of an Anselmo Garcia McNulty header gave Colin O’Brien’s side all three points in Cork.
A win on Monday against Israel would confirm top spot in Group 3 after Andorra shocked the Israelis with a 1-0 win at St Colman’s Park in Cobh.
Ireland started the brighter of the teams and could have been one up after five minutes. Tayo Adaramola got beyond Milan Radovic and delivered a superb cross but Sinclair Armstrong fired over the bar from close range.
The hosts came close again soon after. A free by Robbie Mahon was floated into the box and the flick on just avoided the head of Evan Ferguson who was threatening from the back post.
Ireland controlled the tempo of the game with wide players Armstrong and Mahon constantly asking questions of the Montenegro full backs.
Despite their possession Montenegro proved difficult to break down and the sides went in at the break all square.
After half-time Ireland stepped it up a gear. Armstrong again was involved doing brilliantly to beat his full back but his cross flashed across the face of the Montenegro goal.
Then two minutes later Ferguson almost produced a moment of magic. The ball fell to the Bohemians forward on the edge of the area and his chip left Nikola Ivezic stranded but it just fell the wrong side of the post.
Armstrong continued to influence the game and another cross from the Shamrock Rovers forward found Mahon but he couldn’t add to the goal he netted against Andorra.
Then came the break through on 55 minutes McCormack’s free kick on the angle of the penalty area was whipped in and it evaded everyone and nestled in the bottom of Ivezic’s net.
But their lead didn’t last long. Ognjen Bakic found himself one-on-one and despite his effort deflecting off the outstretched leg of Daniel Rose it rolled into the bottom corner.
Ireland came back and McCormack’s long range effort had Ivezic’s at full stretch to tip it around the post for a corner.
From the resulting corner St Patrick’s Athletic man McCormack found the head of Garcia McNulty to nod in on 64 minutes and send Turner’s Cross wild.
Not content with two, Ireland pressed for another and substitute Oliver O’Neill stung the palms of the Montenegro stopper in their pursuit for a third.
The third did eventually come and it was McCormack again. Conway dribbled his way into the Montenegro box and struck a low effort that hit the post. It fell to McCormack who fired home to make it 3-1.
Ireland: Rose, O’Brien (C), Adaramola, Kavanagh, Garcia McNulty, Conway, Armstrong, Conroy, McCormack, Mahon (O’Neill 65), Ferguson.
Montenegro: Ivezic, Radovic, Bozovic, Vukotic (C), Bajovic, Ernec (Vujacic 82), Bakic, Radojicic, Jokovic, Velijic (Cetkovic. 77), Suskavcevic, (Rastoder 68).
Referee: Ferenc Karako (Hungary)
Monday, November 18: Ireland v Israel, Turner’s Cross, Cork, KO 2pm