An eight-year-old boy who has been praised for his rendition of Ireland’s Call at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday said he felt “a little bit nervous” as he took to the pitch.
Stevie Mulrooney, from Kilkenny city, said although it was “a lot of pressure” to perform in front of more than 50,000 fans in advance of the Ireland versus Italy rugby match, it “felt great”.
“It was a big crowd, they’re trying to fit the most people into the Aviva . . . you’re down there with the band and team, the linesmen and referee, they’re watching me sing too, so it’s a lot of pressure with all of those people,” Stevie told the The Irish Times on Monday.
“I had earphones on to block out the sound, so I could only hear the band but when I started singing it felt great when I got into the song, it was just great. I wasn’t nervous when I got into the song.”
Stevie came to prominence singing the rugby anthem on RTÉ’s Late Late Toy Show, before being invited to perform at Ireland’s opening home match of the Six Nations championship by flanker Josh van der Flier.
Stevie, who is in first class and has been singing at River Nore Music Scademy for more than a year, said being invited to sing was “the best day” of his life.
He said he was “so happy” to hear Ireland coach Andy Farrell describe his performance as “amazing” and added he would returning to school on Tuesday.
“I’m a normal eight-year-old still, so I’ll have to go back to school. Maybe I’ll learn a couple of other songs,” Stevie said. “I’ll be signing autographs, my hand will be in pain again, writing all the autographs. At some stage I’ll just be doing ‘S’ and a scribble.”
Stevie’s father, Seamus, said he was “very proud” of him and that he had “sang it as well as he could”.
“We were delighted for him. From where I was, I couldn’t even see him because I was trying to record him but all I got was the players because he was so small, he was behind them,” Mr Mulrooney said.
“Everyone else probably had a better view of him than I did. I only got to look back at it later.”
Mr Mulrooney added that the Army band had kept Stevie calm before his performance as well as Jennifer Dalton, who sang Amhrán na bhFiann and the Italian national anthem.
“I thought she was brilliant and deserves a special mention for really looking after him on the day. We were delighted that he had Jennifer beside him,” he said.
Speaking to reporters after the 36-0 victory, Farrell said Stevie’s confidence was “amazing”.
“I actually thought ‘I wish our lads are going to be like that’,” Farrell said. “He’s got his shoulders back, he was ready. He was waving to the crowd, stood there on his own. I thought: ‘this kid’s got it all’. He was amazing. He nailed it, didn’t he? It was a great start.”