Arch-rivals Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness found a way to forge a partnership, so why can't Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill, the next generation of unionist and republican leaders, strike a deal?
Mr O'Dowd said there is a "recipe for a stable executive and assembly" but warned the issues that forced the snap election could not be ignored.
Now the results are in and the parties have three weeks to form a government. "I think the desire is there - it's just if they can overcome the main hurdles".
Mike Nesbitt won his seat at the Strangford count but shortly afterwards, he announced that he was to stand down as Ulster Unionist leader following his party's poor performance. Voters will go to 600 polling stations across 18 constituencies.
Tensions between the Catholic and socialist Sinn Fein and the Protestant and conservative DUP boiled over in January when Sinn Fein collapsed the government.
Tim Houston, Church and Development Officer for CARE in Northern Ireland, told Premier: "Definitely it does leave the door open. for certain issues.
It was a vote against Brexit and for the North to have a designated special status within the European Union".
Friday's final Northern Ireland-wide total of first-preference votes - the core measure of party popularity - showed the Democratic Unionists narrowly on top with 28.1 percent, down 1 point from the last election 10 months ago.
"It is not for Sinn Fein to dictate who our nominee for first minister is".
The election was triggered when Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness quit as deputy first minister over a costly, bungled green energy subsidy scheme rolled out by first minister Foster when she was economy minister.
He said Brexit "is a good way for Sinn Fein to reopen existing agreements and arguments - nationalists feel that those agreements have been betrayed by Brexit". As she spoke, Unionist parties in the north of Ireland watched their support shrink to its lowest in almost 100 years.
Some opinion polls say the DUP will still emerge as the largest party with some drop in support.
However, Sinn Féin continues to call for Arlene Foster's resignation as DUP party leader while a full investigation of the heating scandal is carried out; if no government is formed Northern Ireland could return to what is called "direct rule" from London.
Sinn Féin took 27 seats, while the SDLP had 12, the UUP 10, the Alliance party eight, and other parties taking 5 of the 90 seats declared.
Although Sinn Féin has declined to comment on the nature of his illness, he is believed to be suffering from a genetic condition.