'Next stop is Taoiseach's office'
NOT quite the long sought-after All-Ireland football title, but as near as dammit.
There was no mistaking the delight and sheer relief in the Kenny heartland of Castlebar as the news broke just before 5pm.
They had speculated all day on Tucker St. From Enda's office at the top of the street, down to his local, Coady's Bar, and on to endless cups of coffee at the Linenhall arts centre, the debate had not so much raged as simmered.
It continued to bubble under as a tense afternoon wore on, and then they gathered back at Coady's as the result became imminent. Lifelong friend and Fine Gael stalwart PJ Nally jumped as the first text message came through.
"He did it -- he won it," he exclaimed to the bar.
The handshakes and back-slapping heralded the result Castlebar had hoped for, but feared might not be. Somebody bought two bottles of champagne and shouts of "Up Mayo" accompanied the first toast of the day.
A few hurried up to Enda's office where his secretary, Teresa Diskin, was greeting well-wishers with hugs, while trying the impossible task of answering two phones at the same time. Passers-by stuck their heads in the door to offer their congratulations as motorists blew their horns and gave the thumbs-up.
"We got the result we wanted -- the phone has gone crazy," Teresa said.
Former councillor Paddy McGuinness, who had accompanied Enda on his charity climb of Kilimanjaro some years ago, insisted that while there was delight at the result, there was no triumphalism attached.
"It has been a long tense day, but it is a great result. I believe he will be greatly strengthened as he has been living under the cloud of a threat from Richard Bruton for many years. Now that is gone," Mr McGuinness said.
County council chairman John Cribbin predicted that not alone would Enda Kenny remain as Fine Gael leader for as long as he wished, but he would return to Mayo as Taoiseach "within months".
"It was an east coast, Dublin 4 thing against the west of Ireland. We've proved now that we're as good, if not better, than the rest," he said.
Back in Coady's, the party was taking off as the crowd gathered around the TV.
"Come on, ya boy ya," chorused numerous supporters when their main man emerged on-screen and walked to the waiting microphones.
And as he finished his initial address and the coverage ended, there was a spontaneous round of applause from all present.
Adrian Coady was grinning as he happily filled drink from behind the bar.
"He's some fighter. He amazed me the way he came out with all guns blazing this week. Let the party begin," he announced.
No sooner had he a counter-full of pints filled than his Dad, Adrian Snr, announced that the next drink was on Enda.
The cheer was nearly as great as that which greeted the result from Leinster House.
The planning for the welcome home began in earnest. The hometown hero had to be acclaimed and bonfires would have to be built.
"And the Bruton camp can go to blazes," opined one wag to loud cheers all round.