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Enda Kenny is now virtually unbackable to become the next Taoiseach. Maxwells Photography

Odds on FG triumph shorten after RTÉ debate

Enda Kenny’s solid performance sees the odds of a resounding Fine Gael victory shorten with the major bookmakers.

THE ODDS of Fine Gael winning more than 70 seats in next week’s general election have shortened massively following last night’s leaders’ debate featuring the leaders of all five major parties.

With Enda Kenny being widely perceived as the strongest performer in the RTÉ debate which emerged without a clear winner, Boylesports has shortened its odds of the party winning 81 seats or more from 12/1 to 8/1.

The odds of winning somewhere between 71 and 80 seats, though, have dropped sharply – having begun the debate at 7/4, the probability of the party winning 71-75 seats in the 31st Dáil has fallen to 7/2 – meaning Boylesports consider it now twice as likely that the party will win an unprecedented number of seats in its modern history.

The odds of winning between 76 and 80 seats, meanwhile, have shortened from 8/1 to 3/1.

Boylesports’ Leon Blanche said Kenny’s “statesmanlike performance” had given Fine Gael “a further shot in the arm”.

Fianna Fáil’s prospects have only improved slightly in the time since Micheál Martin became leader: the bookie now offers odds of 6/5 that the party will see its current Dáil squad of 72 depleted to between 31 and 35 seats, while the odds are only slightly longer – 11/4 – that they may win up to 40 seats.

Sinn Féin have also profited from last night’s debate, with Gerry Adams’ showing fuelling momentum towards them in the betting markets: bookies’ odds suggest that the party is most likely to emerge with 13 or 14 seats, up from its current five.

Enda Kenny has become virtually unbackable in the race to succeed Brian Cowen as Taoiseach – with Betfair offering a mere 1/100 on him. Micheál Martin can be backed at 30/1, while Eamon Gilmore is an 18/1 shot to take the top office (though his odds at 1/12 to become Tánaiste are a more likely prospect).

Gerry Adams can fetch a tidy profit for his faithful, though – Betfair offers 473/1 of his becoming the next Taoiseach, while John Gormley can be backed at 1000/1 with Paddy Power, who consider him an even less likely prospect than Bertie Ahern or Mary Harney, neither of whom are even running in the election.

Perhaps most intriguingly, though, Boylesports offers odds of 6/1 on a Fine Gael minority government – a prospect which, if Kenny performs similarly well in the final debates, may become much more realistic.

Poll: Who won the five-way RTÉ leaders’ debate? >