Diehards insist no hurdle too high as odds-on favourite doesn't disappoint
LIKE satisfied punters with unshakeable belief in the odds-on favourite, Cowen supporters in Tullamore last night insisted they had never doubted the form choice in the 5.45 at Leinster House.
As they awaited the result at the Brewery Tap Bar in Bridge Street, the Offaly faithful were refusing to contemplate any other outcome.
They had gathered in advance of the feature event to chew over the form and inevitably came to the same conclusion. There could only be the one outcome, and the odds didn't lie.
"He's the best man for the job. It would be crazy for Fianna Fail to go through a leadership battle now, just six weeks or so before a general election -- it would do more harm than good," proprietor Paul Bell said.
Even before he became Taoiseach, Brian Cowen had dropped in to mark Mr Bell's installation as proprietor by taking part in the recording of a charity album, 'Live at the Tap'.
His diehard supporters were still singing from the same song sheet last night.
"If you remember the last election, the man who came out fighting was Brian Cowen and most commentators believe it was his intervention that made all the difference," Mr Bell said.
"He took on the job three years ago at the most difficult time in the history of the State and he made the difficult decisions that had to be made.
"Knowing him personally, he hates to see people suffering from the way things have gone, but I believe history will be very kind to Brian Cowen."
It had been an anxious day at the constituency office of Mr Cowen in Tullamore as staff picked up on every scrap of information coming from the corridors of power in the capital.
Constituency secretary and Tullamore town councillor Sinead Dooley had been "invited" to Dublin for the crucial vote, but staff in the office on the second floor of Grand Canal House were kept busy throughout the day as supporters across the constituency called to find out the latest.
"We've had several calls. People have been ringing in with messages of support or just to see how things are going. It's a bit of an anxious wait for everyone," staff told the Irish Independent.
Over in Clara, the topic was also on the minds of Mr Cowen's neighbours.
There was a cautious optimism that he would survive the day, but a realisation also that things were grim in the country, and the future for Fianna Fail and its leader was similarly bleak.
"It makes no sense changing the leader of Fianna Fail now--they're not going to be in government after the election anyway. I would expect it to be Brian Cowen still after the vote," Jim Cantwell predicted.