As Mr Cowen stood down – with the Donegal Deputy by his side – bookmakers were quoting odds of 50-1 on Ms Coughlan taking over as party boss.
But tonight the Tanaiste and deputy leaders of the party said she will not stand.
Micheál Martin, Brian Lenihan, Eamon Ó Cuív and Mary Hanafin have all confirmed their intention to stand for the leadership.
Tonight Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty called on Cowen to quit as Taoiseach and call an immediate general election. He was supported in his call by Fine Gael Deputy Joe McHugh.
And it is now clear that there is a growing mood within Fianna Fail that whoever is elected the new leader should also be Taoiseach – and that Brian Cowen should go.
Fianna Fáil Chairman John Browne has announced the rules of the leadership contest.
Nominations must be received by the Chairman by 1pm on Monday.
Any Fianna Fáil TD can be nominated to contest for the position.
Nominees should be proposed and seconded by a Fianna Fáil member of Dáil Éireann.
The new leader will be elected at a special Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting at 2pm on Wednesday.
The election will be by secret ballot.
13 Fianna Fáil TDs have declared their support for Micheál Martin.
Michael Ahern, Michael Fitzpatrick, Noel O’Flynn, Chris Andrews, Timmy Dooley, Sean Haughey, Billy Kelleher, Michael McGrath, John O’Donoghue, Ned O’Keefe, Michael Mulcahy and Peter Power have given him their backing as leader, while Sean Ardagh has said Mr Martin should be leader with Mary Hanafin as his deputy.