Ireland returned to the Eurovision finals for the first time since 2013 with an emotionally uplifting performance that set the crowd alight in the first Eurovision Semi Final in Portugal.
While favourites Israel and Cyprus easily cruised into the final on Sunday morning Australia time, the “Love is Love” themed Irish performance won over hearts in the crowd more for the dancing than the song itself.
The song ‘Together’ by Ryan O’Shaughnessy, which was 250/1 to win Eurovision before the performance, was sweet, had good sentiment and really inclusive.
After the opening, the crowd cheered (for almost the first time during a song tonight) as two guys (Alan McGrath and Kevin O’Dwyer) wandered across the bridge leading to the stage hand in hand.
It was there they performed a subtle, passionate performance, to perfectly accompany the song of two young men and the end of a love affair. By the end, there was not a dry eye in the house and Ireland was clearly going to be heading to the final aiming to win a record eighth Eurovision.
Speaking backstage surrounded by the team, O’Shaughnessy said he couldn’t describe the feeling when it was announced they had made the final, given they were the last performer to go through.
“I think I speak for us all and say that we are so happy that other countries can understand what we are trying to do here, we are trying to make a little bit of a change and let people see love is love and its great that they feel what we feel,” said O’Shaughnessy.
The other mild surprise of the night was former model turned singer Mikolas Josef for the Czech Republic who had injured his back earlier in the week and it wasn’t expected that he would be able to dance during his bouncy swaggering tale of young love ‘Lie to me’.
Instead, the performance by the Czech Republic’s answer to Justin Bieber was high energy and full of bum wiggling, a performance that certainly has mainstream appeal and could have a chance in the final on Sunday.
Ireland has now firmed from 250/1 down to 67/1 (17th favourite to win). Czech Republic 8th favourite while Cyprus, Norway, and Israel remain the leaders heading into the second semi-final on Friday which will see Australia’s Jess Mauboy perform.
Winners from Semi-Final 1
- Czech Republic