Constituency Profile: DUP's Paul Girvan unseats incumbent UUP MP in South Antrim
THE close call predicted in the unionist stronghold of South Antrim ended in a comfortable win for the DUP's Paul Girvan over UUP rival Danny Kinahan.
With more than 3,000 votes separating the pair, Mr Kinahan lost the seat he has held since 2015 and ranked second with 13,300 votes.
The victory was all the sweeter for the DUP given the constituency was one of the few where the two main unionist parties went head to head after UUP leader Robin Swann ruled out any suggestion of a pact.
It also comes just three months after Mr Girvan failed to make the quota in the assembly elections - but still managed to retain his MLA seat - in the wake of the Renewable Heating initiative scandal.
As he took to the winner's podium in the Valley Leisure in early hours of Friday, he said he "wanted to put on record" his thanks to "Danny" for the "service he has given to South Antrim".
The former Ballyclare councillor also thanked his campaign team for "knocking on every door".
The win follows the DUP's shock defeat two years ago when party stalwart William McCrea lost out to Mr Kinahan with just 949 votes separating them.
For a full list of results click here
The UUP member, who had hoped to pick up some floating moderate votes due to his support of gay marriage, wished "his friend" Mr Girvan well in his new seat.
Sinn Féin's Declan Kearney - who topped the poll in the last assembly election - ranked third for Westminster followed by Neil Kelly of Alliance and the SDLP's Roisin Lynch.
The two-horse race ended with a bigger gap than predicted in what was the DUP's night.
Speaking after his win, Mr Girvan said: "I want to thank the people of South Antrim who have voted for me, and I am deeply humbled and honoured that they had the confidence in me to give me that vote. I will work hard to deliver for them."
"The people of South Antrim have united around the positive message our campaign had and that was that we have a voice for the union and the unionists. It's something that has resonated with the people and I really do feel we are the voice for unionism.
"We asked people to unite behind us and that is what they have done, it's not just in South Antrim but that’s right across the province."
Paul Girvan (DUP) 16,508 (38.24%) +8.14%
Danny Kinahan (UUP) 13,300 (30.81%) -1.89%
Declan Kearney (SF) 7,797 (18.06%) +5.20%
Neil Kelly (All 3,203 (7.42%) -2.37%
Roisin Lynch (SDLP) 2,362 (5.47%) -2.72%
Turnout 43,170 (63.26%) +9.09%