Nolan favourite for last seat in Laois-Offaly with first count imminent
The general election picture in Laois-Offaly is taking shape with a huge surge in support for Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley the story of the day so far.
A full tally is now complete with an official first count due later this afternoon.
Brian Stanley will top the poll with 23.7% of the vote in Laois-Offaly. He will be around 5,000 votes above the quota on the first count with tallies putting him on 16,319 votes. His surplus could help former Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan win the fifth seat.
Barry Cowen is a remote second on 8,525 votes with Sean Fleming (7,642) and Charlie Flanagan (7,318) not too far behind. All three are highly likely to keep their seats with Charlie Flanagan weathering the recent RIC storm to holding onto 10% of the vote.
The last seat is the most interesting and looks a straight battle between Peter Ormond (FF), Carol Nolan (IND) and Marcella Corcoran Kennedy. Carol Nolan is fifth after the final tally on 5,195 votes with Marcella Corcoran Kennedy on 4,388 and Peter Ormond on 4,189.
The feeling is Peter Ormond and especially Carol Nolan will transfer better from other candidates with the latter very likely to pick up a large chunk of Brian Stanley's surplus. Peter Ormond may well have needed a stronger showing from Barry Cowen to come into the reckoning but may well get a bounce upon the elimination of John Leahy. However, Nolan can expect a similar bounce from the elimination of the likes of Ken Smollen.
Leahy, Hackett and Ken Smollen look too far out to figure as the count progresses. Marcella Corcoran Kennedy would need a Lazarus-like revival in transfers to remain competitive.
At this stage, it looks likely Carol Nolan will hang on to her seat.
PREDICTION: Brian Stanley (SF), Sean Fleming (FF), Barry Cowen (FF), Charlie Flanagan (FG), Carol Nolan (IND).
Keep up to date with everything from the Laois-Offaly count here on the Offaly Express LIVE BLOG.