The spin zone: Cost of overlooking 'three minnows' is high
Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30
The desire to punch above your weight is always tempting - although sometimes foolishly fatal.
It's the schoolyard mentality that if you can take down a big gun, all those around you will offer up their respect.
Stephen Donnelly, Lucinda Creighton and Richard Boyd Barrett entered the ring with so-called heavyweights on Monday night - but the 'three amigos' and Gerry Adams barely give them a second glance.
Enda Kenny, Micheál Martin and, to a lesser extent, Joan Burton didn't feel any threat from the newcomers in the Social Democrats, Renua Ireland and AAA-PBP, or at least they didn't show it.
The 'giants' of Irish politics fought almost exclusively among themselves, leaving the others a free run to state their case on the big stage.
But in doing so they may have accidentally ceded a few more of those valuable percentage points.
The smaller parties have been largely overlooked throughout this campaign, as have the Independents, with the exception of Michael Lowry.
While the media and the main parties have been focused on coalition options, the fact that Independents and others are on 18pc is an indictment of the Fine Gael-Labour campaign.
And as a collective, the 'others' are matching the scores being achieved by Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
It's not plausible that they would ever come together as a unit, but while the larger parties dismissed them as irrelevant - as happened in the TV debate - they are doing nothing to attract that huge batch of voters.
Despite their public statements, none of the minor parties are too keen on entering a coalition - fearing they could go the same way as the PDs, the Green Party and, in the current Dáil, the Labour Party.
Enda Kenny doesn't "contemplate" doing business with Independents, and with the latest poll showing Fine Gael on 26pc, he won't have to.
But the vote that 'others' pull from the main parties on February 26 could still influence the formation of the next government.
By focusing all their attack efforts on Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, the Coalition parties forgot that people looking for an alternative might stray further down the ballot paper.
There were no knock-out punches from Donnelly, Creighton or Boyd Barrett on Monday - but they did manage to get noticed above the noise of squabbling politicians that we've known for a generation.