PRE-election Fine Gael opinion polls reveal that the party is in with a strong chance of becoming the biggest party in Laois-Offaly.
Polls carried out for candidates in both counties reveal that while the party will manage to win one seat in Offaly, there is evidence that a second seat will be won in Laois at Fianna Fil's expense.
And it looks as if Minister John Moloney is the one to lose out, paying a high price for his loyalty to An Taoiseach Brian Cowen. There is even "shock" in FG at how bad he fared in the opinion polls.
One poll revealed that he scored just eight votes from 200 voters polled in Laois with a mock ballot paper.
When merged it appears the polls show that Brian Cowen would win a seat taking 13,000 votes, down 6,000 on his record haul in 2007.
Charlie Flanagan would also be elected with surplus of votes. While an Offaly FG seat is almost certain, the polls show that the last two seats would be up between Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fil. Sinn Fein's Brian Stanley also did well but transfers were holding him back.
It is understood that the poll showed that Sean Fleming and Labour's Jim O'Brien would have been scrapping for the final seat.
There is still a belief that Minister Moloney could be in with a shout if transfers from Cowen travel to Laois, rather than to John Foley in Edenderry. However, Mr Foley is doing better on first preferences.
The word from FG is that FF hold on for two seats because of the number of first preferences.
FG holds its convention in Mountmellick Community Sports hall this Sunday, December 12 at 3 pm. The following candidates have been nominated: Charles Flanagan, TD, Cllr James Daly, Cllr John Moran, Mr Paddy Buggy, Cllr Nichola Hogan, Cllr Molly Buckley, Cllr Liam Quinn, Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy and John Clendennen.
The Labour Party is also due to hold its election convention this Friday night in the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel at 8pm.