With the sun setting over Cave Hill – and only around 10 minutes after the polls closed – the queues began growing to get in to the Valley Leisure Centre where South Antrim’s ballot papers were to be counted.
There was tension in the air as they awaited the start of the count, but DUP veteran William McCrea appeared in the line beaming and projecting an air of confidence as the roughly 90 counting staff in the sports courts below readied themselves for work.
His main rival for the seat - the more liberal unionist Danny Kinahan - also appeared at the hall.
The UUP challenger was asked whether, since campaigning was all over, his overwhelming feeling was one of relief or exhaustion.
He said: “It’s all those things blended in together. You go from highs to lows. It’s a rollercoaster.”
When he spoke to the News Letter at around 11.20pm, he said early indications were he was “neck and neck” with rival unionist William McCrea.
Meanwhile, 29-year-old TUV candidate Richard Cairns, declared himself in “very positive” mood as he waited to see if he could improve on the 5.4 per cent share of the vote in 2010.