Twelve areas which hold the key to elections
The local elections are literally 258 different elections, right across the country. The 34 city and county councils are really where the game is at and are broken down into 171 different electoral areas.
Party performances will prove telling as trends will emerge on the day. Here's a dozen areas where the results will give an indication of who is having a good day -- and who isn't.
Clontarf, Dublin City
With Eibhlin Byrne running for Europe, poll-topping Deirdre Heney is joined by Ronan Callely (son of Ivor) in a bid to hold two FF seats.
The arrival of Labour's Aodhan O Riordain makes this is a must win for Eamon Gilmore. Richard Bruton's impressive duo of Naoise O Muiri and Gerry Breen seem solid. The Greens' Donna Cooney replaces former Green Cllr Bronwen Maher.
Independent TD Finian McGrath's candidate Damian O'Farrell is also figuring.
The heart of the commuter belt, this will be a telling spot to evaluate if Breakfast Roll Man has truly dumped Fianna Fail.
FF are really up against it to hold three seats with Oliver Brooks, Nick Killian and Noel Leonard. The challenge is led by FG's Regina Doherty and Labour's Michael McLoughlin, but it's going to be tight all round.
Newcomers Tom Barry of FG and Trish O'Dea of FF make it an interesting run-in in north Cork, where there's a new seat up for grabs. FF is hopeful of actually taking a second seat, with O'Dea complementing Dan Joe Fitzgerald.
Barry is future TD material, but FG want him to take a third seat, rather than edge out Tom Sheahan or Noel O'Connor. Without a Sherlock on the ticket, Labour thinks Jerry Mullally will hold.
Against the odds on a bad day, FF took four seats in 2004. The addition of an extra seat and the highly-rated Charlie McConalogue, along with Paul Canning, means a repeat performance can't be ruled out. Led ably by Bernard McGuinness, FG are trying to spoil the party to bring in an extra seat. And SF's Padraig MacLochlainn will be comfortably elected, but could do with bringing in Sean Ruddy to confirm Dail ambitions. Watch out for Ind Nicholas Crossan.
Dun Laoghaire, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
After coming close before, Richard Boyd-Barrett is trying to finally make the breakthrough for the People Before Profit Alliance. But it's not easy in a bloodbath area.
Labour hopes to take a second seat through Stephen Fitzpatrick. The internal battles in FG and FF are intriguing. FG have John Bailey, Mary Mitchell-O'Connor and Tom O Higgins all vying to not get left out, while FF's Cormac Devlin seeks to hold off running-mate Peter O'Brien.
South-West Ward, Cork City
FF are in trouble in practically all the Cork City wards and on a really bad day could lose half their seats. The South-West ward provides a good mix of working class estates and middle-class areas. Aside from the extra seat, FF's Fergal Dennehy (son of former TD John) and Mary Shields will be fending off the advances of SF's Henry Cremin, who went close last time; FG's Barry Keane; and outside shots from Green Mick Murphy and Labour's Ger Gibbons -- but it would want to be a Gilmore gale.
Commuter country has changed a lot in two years, as has this area with the re-draw. But FF's Paul Kelly is diligent and it will be tricky to see his party not take two seats.
FG's Senan Griffin retains his reputation as a hard worker, with Katie Ridge also figuring. Ind Catherine Murphy will be back again and Labour's Kevin Byrne and John McGinley are solid, but there's only six seats.
In order to rebuild for a Dail seat, Labour vitally need to get Arthur Spring elected, preferably along with sitting councillor, Terry O'Brien.
FF will have a formidable line up in Norma Foley, Anne McEllistrim and Ted Fitzgerald. Despite changes in the FG line-up, the party would still expect to hold two seats through Pat McCarthy and Jim Finucane. SF's Toireasa Ferris is safe as houses.
The retirement of FF's Frank Chambers presents FG with an opportunity to pick up another seat -- provided it gets the strategy right.
Michael Ring has translated his work ethic into the party ticket in his home town and Peter Flynn is tipped to join the O'Malleys -- Austin and John -- on the council. But the presence of SF's Dave Keating and Labour's Keith Martin means it's by no means a done deal.
FG is banking on Brian Whelehan translating his magnificent All-Ireland winning performances into the political pitch and joining Percy Clendennen. But there are question marks over whether they have too many candidates as they bid to take out either of the Independents, John Carroll or Tony McLoughlin. FF's Peter Ormond to hold on.
Neither FF nor FG took a seat here last time and now there's an extra seat. After taking a circuitous route into Fine Gael, via Fianna Fail, Larry Dunne is vying to move up from Town Council level. Briefly a councillor before, Tom O'Leary is trying for the same seat.
FF's Dermot Murray and Stephen O'Connell are in the mix for a gain. Green Joe Corr is solid, as is Labour's Ciaran Byrne.
Independents David O'Connor and May McKeon are seeking to not get squeezed out.
Following his stint in prison, Michael 'Stroke' Fahy's presence, now as an Independent, makes it difficult for FF to press for a second seat -- but a geographically well-balanced ticket gives them a shot.
FG are already up one on 2004 after the addition of former PD leader Ciaran Cannon's council substitute Michael 'Moegie' Maher, but the party will still fancy an unlikely cut off a fourth seat -- on a real good day.