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Shattered Martin loses Nemo in hunt for elusive second seat

NOT even an uber-healthy breakfast of porridge, and fruit, washed down with green tea, could hide the signs of fatigue on Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin's face yesterday.

He gamely signed up for the 'Get On Board for Youth Mental Health' campaign at Cork Constitution's rugby ground Temple Hill -- but few doubted that he would have given anything for a few extra hours' sleep.

On Wednesday, he criss-crossed Munster and Leinster in a bid to bolster threatened FF Dail seats -- and only arrived home at 1am yesterday.

He then stayed up till 2am catching up on family news.

There was also the small matter of updates about his beloved Nemo Rangers' preparations for the All-Ireland Club Football Championship semi-final in Limerick tomorrow.

Mr Martin was back up at 7am and talking to the assembled media about transfers, seat targets, Independent TDs and FF regeneration at Temple Hill at 9am. At 10am, he was on Cork radio station Red FM.

Whether it will have made any difference will only become apparent at 9am tomorrow when ballot boxes are opened and tallymen begin their assessment of FF's 'Day of Judgment'.

Yesterday, a weary Mr Martin quoted the late US House of Representatives speaker, Tipp O'Neill, when he stressed that "all politics is local".

In his case, General Election 2011 is very much local -- it will all boil down to whether he can defy the polls, the bookies and the political analysts by helping his Cork South Central running mate Michael McGrath get re-elected in the face of a threatened Fine Gael onslaught in the five-seat constituency.

Such a small victory might hint at better-than-expected Dail returns nationwide for FF on Saturday and Sunday.

It might also offer some small compensation for the fact that, for the first time in years, Nemo Rangers will tomorrow start a major match without their local TD cheering them on from the stands.

Irish Independent