AS former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds used to say, it's the little things that can trip you up.
Teeing off with disgraced former Anglo Irish Bank chief Seanie FitzPatrick didn't make Brian Cowen a bad leader in his constituents' eyes.
Sounding more than a little worse for wear on the national airwaves early one morning didn't dent his popularity at home either.
Cowen's constituents didn't bat an eyelid at golf-gate or gargle-gate -- and they left the national media 'at it'.
But the party's chances of bucking the national Fianna Fail wipeout in Brian Cowen's constituency were destroyed the moment a decision was taken to close three rural fire stations.
Barry Cowen watched anxiously as votes were counted yesterday, but it became clear hours after he shook Fine Gael's Charlie Flanagan's hand that he was in for a long wait.
He could have been a poll topper, some insisted, only for the decision to close Banager, Kilcormac and Daingean fire stations.
The issue was so contentious the cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council attended his last local authority meeting through the back door to avoid protesters.
Brian Cowen hadn't arrived at the count centre in Tullamore by the time the returning officer Verona Lambe announced a recount at 7.15pm yesterday.
On Saturday evening, he came to the count with his family to monitor developments.
He insisted he was not bitter about what happened, but he looked wounded as he answered questions about the demise of his party.
"Obviously it's a very difficult day for the party," he said.
"We will accept the defeat and rebuild for the future as a party. Everything I did was for the good of this country."