Dancing With The Stars: Nina Carberry is well placed to gallop home in first place

Semi-finals review: The jockey faces Ellen Keane, Erica Cody and Jordan Conroy in the final

There is heartache for former Love Island contestant Matthew MacNabb as he is eliminated from Dancing With The Stars (RTÉ One, 6.30pm) at the semi-final stage. MacNabb and his pro partner Laura Nolan lose a dance-off to Erica Cody and Denys Samson and must pack their bags after three months of hoofing their way into viewers' affections.

It’s a blow for the likeable MacNabb. But the Co Down native is philosophical about tripping up at the penultimate hurdle. And, as is mandatory, he praises DWTS for expanding his horizons, making him a better person and generally ensuring he will live long and prosper.

“This has been a rollercoaster, 10 hours a day, seven days a week. I’ve grown so much. Laura is so talented and is an amazing person,” he says after his Samba to Drake’s One Dance fails to impress the judges in the elimination round.

Semi-finals night is typically when DWTS sorts the true contenders from those there simply for the experience. And this week the frontrunners twinkle with impressive ferociousness. Establishing an early lead is jockey Nina Carberry (with Pasquale La Rocca), whose paso doble to Get Ready by Rayelle scores a clean sweep of 30.

"Fearless," says judge Loraine Barry. "To do a drop backwards – we call it a dead-man's drop. It gave me goosebumps."

A perfect 30 is likewise achieved by Olympic swimmer Ellen Keane (fresh from serving as Grand Marshall at Dublin St Patrick's Day Parade) and Stephen Vincent, performing a Charleston to Beverley Knight's version of Marvellous Party.

"Great Gatsby, great characterisation. Greatest we've seen you this season," says judge Brian Redmond. "The little details. Heel stabs. Fantastic."

Later, comes the bust-a-move marathon, where bragging rights go to rugby sevens player Jordan Conroy and Salome Chachua. They're last on the floor as the judges eliminate the couples one by one.

That victory means Conroy and Chachua are well positioned for next week's final, having earlier scored 28 for their American Smooth to Jackie Wilson's Sweetest Feeling. "Awesome energy. Jordan you look so smart," says judge Arthur Gourounlian. "You kept well together.

In the chasing pack, Cody and Samson perform a charming jive to a cover of Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy by the cast of the Sing 2 movie. “Once you got down, arms weren’t going crazy,” tuts Redmond. “The thing I liked was the bounce action. A bit stilted for me.”

Cody’s dancing is obviously still a work in progress. Nonetheless, she out-scores MacNabb whose samba draws polite though muted praise and a mark of 21. “So many facial expressions,” says Gourounlian. “You seem like you enjoyed it. You have improved so much over the weeks.”

With MacNabb gone, attention will now focus on the grand decider. Having shone throughout the series, Carberry is well placed to gallop home in first place.

But with Keane growing into the competition week by week and Conroy finding his stride, all is still to dance for (and that is without discounting the charismatic Erica Cody). Expect at least one more twist as the contest for the Glitterball trophy goes down to the wire.

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