This was definitely a debate of two halves.

There was rancour, side-swipes and accusations in the initial phase as the contenders worked through the campaign rows over Áras expenses, the Travelling community and participation in debates.

There was far less fire-and-fury in the second part of the programme as it focused, mostly, on the contestants' vision for the presidency and what they might do if sworn into office.

For long periods of time, Independent candidate and President Michael D Higgins, appeared happy to let the others slug it out, rather than interject.

However, he was robustly challenged at the outset when the discussion focused on the controversial use of the Government jet.

Prime Time presenter David McCullagh had to intervene several times to reign-in Peter Casey’s critique of the incumbent.

Gavin Duffy, Liadh Ní Riada, Seán Gallagher and Joan Freeman were all put through their paces on their record and ideas.

As the debate approached the two-hour mark, the curtain finally came down.

There were no killer blows or knock-out punches.

There were no big surprises either.

And that would suggest, on balance, that the debate will not significantly alter the trend set out in recent polls.

The contenders now have just one full day of campaigning left to impress the voters and secure their vote.