Irish hopeful Kavanagh sounds positive note


NIAMH KAVANAGH is in fighting form in advance of tonight’s Eurovision Song Contest final in Oslo.

“I still believe a great song sung well can win this competition,” she said last night. “I feel that the strength we have is the honesty of our song and the fact that people can relate to it on every level. The staging and lighting is beautiful but simple, so the song really shines”.

Kavanagh is the first Irish competitor since 2006 to qualify for a Eurovision final, but her voice showed signs of strain during Thursday night’s qualifier. She was only able to reach the last note of her song, It’s for You, for a moment, whereas in rehearsals, she held the note heroically. The strength of her performance and stage presence nonetheless convinced the public and jury voters to pass her through to tonight’s competition.

The support of the home team was crucial to her success, says Kavanagh. “I came out on stage and saw the Irish fans in their feather boas and I really felt the support from home too.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back on that stage on Saturday and I just hope I can make Ireland proud. We’re in a good position singing in 10th place, but I really feel that your position in the running order doesn’t matter – it’s about your three minutes on stage.”

Julian Vignoles, head of RTÉ’s Eurovision delegation, played down concerns about Kavanagh’s ability to deliver the song, saying she was resting up in order to be fully prepared.

There were two fully staged dress rehearsals for the final yesterday, the second of which was voted on by the expert juries whose response counts for 50 per cent of the total result.

Kavanagh is competing in one of the most wide-open fields in recent Eurovision memory. Several factors are at play in creating this situation: a raft of strong songs and major changes to the voting system, with public voting lines opening from the first song rather than for a short block of time after the performances.

The song at the top of most bookmakers’ lists, Drip Dropfrom Azerbaijan, will be performed first tonight, which is historically a disadvantage. Azerbaijan will hope the early opening of voting lines will even out this situation.

The UK’s Josh Dubovie (19) is currently tipped by pollsters to finish second last tonight.

When asked in a press conference what it was like to be performing what some pundits have called the worst Eurovision song ever (That Sounds Good to Me, written by Pete Waterman and Mike Stock), Dubovie said that “everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but we’re going to have to go out there and prove them wrong” – winning him a round of applause.