It was always going to be a tough battle to get elected in the Nenagh Local Electoral Area, with 20 candidates seeking just nine seats.
Throw into the mix the proliferation of town candidates and that seat was going to become even more elusive. However, few people in Nenagh town predicted that Cllr Virginia O’Dowd would be among the big losers. It was obvious from the first tallies that her seat was in danger and if she were to hang on she would need plenty of transfers. It almost worked out, getting to neck and neck with her party colleague Fiona Bonfield at 1,080 on the 9th count, but once Newport’s Martin Kennedy went out the odds were always stacked that his votes would go back to Bonfield. Ironically, it was O’Dowd’s transfers that put Bonfield over the line.
The party may rue the strategy of running four candidates, especially two in the town itself. The town vote was almost evenly split with Lalor McGee polling 550 against O’Dowd on 690.
The new electoral area council leaves Nenagh town in a vulnerable position, with just two councillors, Seamus Morris, SF, and Hughie McGrath, Ind. However the town vote didn’t come out as strong as in other parts, with less than 60 per cent voting in some parts compared to over 70 per cent in Lorrha.
The other main loser was Cllr John “Rocky” McGrath, who was caught with Newport-based Bonfield and FF runner Martin Kennedy. Polling just 1,023 first preferences, he was never going to get many transfers from the town candidates.
Fine Gael may also regret running five candidates. Town councillors Tommy Moylan and Conor Delaney will be disappointed, as will former councillor Tom Berkery, with 2009 polltopper Phyll Bugler and Ger Darcy having to sweat it out before being elected without reaching the quota.
But at the end of the day, few saw Joe Hannigan getting his massive 2,028 first preference even though it was acknowledged he was running a strong campaign.