While all four nationalist candidates were elected in the first count for Mid Ulster’s six Assembly seats, the shock result of the night was Keith Buchanan’s defeat of DUP running mate Ian McCrea.
Despite trailing his party colleague through most of the count, the DUP’s fresh face took Mr McCrea’s seat from him in the 10th count with just 161 votes.
In his speech he told jubilant supporters: “They said it couldn’t be done, but we done it.”
Mr McCrea left the count centre with his father, Rev William McCrea, before the Electoral Commission made the final announcement and Mid Ulster’s six new MLAs were invested.
Sinn Fein’s Ian Milne topped the poll with 7,035 first preference votes, followed by Patsy McGlone for the SDLP on 6,209.
Michelle O’Neill came in third with 6,147 and Linda Dillon was elected in fourth position with 5,833, leaving the eight remaining candidates to battle it out for the two remaining seats from the early afternoon.
All three Sinn Fein candidates put their quick success down to “good team work” and said they would use their mandate to work for the people of Mid Ulster.
Speaking after his first round selection, the SDLP’s Patsy McGlone said: “It’s a vote of confidence in my work from constituents and I would like to thank each and every one of them.”
For much of the day it was a three-horse race between the UUP’s Sandra Overend and the DUP’s two candidates, but Mr McCrea lost out after the TUV and UUP transfers were counted.
In the end the returning DUP candidate took 4,406 votes to Mr Buchanan’s 4,567.
Delighted to have been re-elected, mum-of-three Sandra Overend thanked the electorate for helping her top the unionist vote.
MID ULSTER CONSTITUENCY (first preference votes)
• Keith Buchanan (DUP)Elected 3,628
• Alan Day (UKIP)256
• Linda Dillon (Sinn Fein)Elected 5,833
• Néidín Hendron (Alliance)471
• Hannah Loughrin (TUV)1,877
• Ian McCrea (DUP)3,765
• Patsy McGlone (SDLP)Elected 6,209
• Ian Milne (Sinn Fein)Elected 7,035
• Michelle O’Neill (Sinn Fein)Elected 6,147
• Sandra Overend (UUP)Elected 4,862
• Hugh Scullion (Workers Party)316
• Stefan Taylor (Green Party)349