Ireland qualifies for Eurovision final for first time in four years


Though her voice did not sound as strong as in rehearsals, the former winner looked confident and happy on stage at the Telenor Arena

IRELAND QUALIFIED for the Eurovision Song Contest final last night for the first time in four years thanks to Niamh Kavanagh’s excellent performance of It’s for You.

Though her voice did not sound as strong as in rehearsals, Kavanagh looked confident and happy on stage at the Telenor Arena, and became one of the 10 acts from last night that will appear in the Eurovision final tomorrow night.

“I’m totally delighted,” Kavanagh says. “The team have been fantastic all the way through and we’re very excited about reaching the final. We’ll keep on doing what we’ve been doing – thank you to everyone for their support.”

Niall Mooney, co-songwriter of It’s for You, said he was “in shock” following the news. “It was a tough semi. I always felt we were going to qualify, but the way Ireland’s luck has been going in the past few years you tend to be braced for disappointment.”

Mooney was also co-writer of last year’s Irish entry, Etcetera, which failed to qualify for the final in Moscow. He said that he and the rest of the Irish team would now have a chance to relax and enjoy the experience of the contest having cleared this hurdle.

Kavanagh performed in what was by far the more competitive of this year’s two Eurovision semi-finals. Acts from Azerbaijan, Israel, Denmark, and Turkey, all hotly tipped to finish in the top 10 overall, qualified last night. The shock relegation was Sweden’s Anna Bergendahl, whose joyous This is My Lifewas also tipped as a top-10 finisher; this is the first time in the history of Eurovision semi-finals that Sweden has not qualified. The well-regarded song from Croatia, Lako Je Sve, was also knocked out of contention.

Songs from Cyprus, Romania, Georgia, Ukraine, and Armenia completed the list of last night’s qualifiers.

There is enormous support for Kavanagh among the over 2,000 fans and journalists attending the contest in Oslo.

She is the only former winner in this year’s contest (having won in 1993 with In Your Eyes) and has been a popular presence at pre-contest concerts and promotional events.

While Ireland has won Eurovision more times than any other country – seven – its recent history at the contest has been weak. Its best performance in the past decade was in 2006, when Brian Kennedy finished 10th.

Signs of the economic downturn have been evident in the Norwegian presentation of the contest: the first and second semi-finals shared very similar scripts, the staging has been pared back and less reliant on screen-based technology than in recent years, and tickets to both semi-finals were not sold out.