Wednesday 28 September 2016

Nicky Byrne fails to qualify for Eurovision final

Published 13/05/2016 | 00:06

Ireland's Nicky Byrne performs the song 'Sunlight'.
Ireland's Nicky Byrne performs the song 'Sunlight'.

Ireland's Nicky Byrne has failed to qualify for the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final.

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The former Westlife singer performed his song Sunlight at Thursday night's semi-final in Stockholm, Sweden, where he was one of 18 acts competing for the last 10 places in the final.

Successful countries were Latvia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Australia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Israel, Lithuania and Belgium.

Eurovision hopefuls going home disappointed were Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, Belarus, Macedonia, Slovenia, Norway and Albania.

Ireland is the most successful country in the contest, with a total of seven wins.

But Byrne will not be joining UK contestants Joe and Jake, who already have a place secured to perform on Saturday.

The UK's place in the final is assured because they are from one of the "big five" - the countries that founded the competition.

Acts from Azerbaijan, Russia, the Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Malta will also compete in the final after triumphing in Tuesday's first semi-final.

Byrne tweeted: "Amazing Time Amazing Support / I gave it my all, I'm sorry I didn't get us there. / I pass on the torch to someone else now next year."

Ireland's Eurovision fortunes have waned over the past few years, especially since the introduction of the weeknight semi-final rounds.

In 2007, Ireland came last for the first time ever, scoring just five points for Dervish's They Can't Stop The Spring.

Ryan Dolan also finished last in 2013 with Only Love Survives, which was the last time the country made it through to the final.

The last time Ireland won the contest was in 1996, when Eimear Quinn triumphed with her song The Voice.

It has been a bad year for Scandinavian entries. Only Sweden, which automatically qualifies, will go through to the Grand Final.

Denmark and Norway were knocked out in the semi-finals, which were decided based on a combination of public and jury voting.

Iceland and Finland also failed to make it through.

Australia now has a perfect track-record of getting into the final - having joined the contest only last year.

X Factor winner Dami Im, who was mentored by pop star Dannii Minogue, was voted through to the final with her song Sound Of Silence.

Despite being on the other side of the world from Europe, Australia was invited to join Eurovision for its 60th anniversary in 2015, when contestant Guy Sebastian finished in fifth place.

As they prepare to take their place among the Eurovision finalists, Joe and Jake tweeted: "Bring on Saturday".

Graham Norton will be at the helm for BBC One's live broadcast of the grand final.

He is expected to pay tribute to former host Sir Terry Wogan, who died earlier this year.

In a Eurovision first, US singer Justin Timberlake will add some global superstar power to the finale.

:: Eurovision will air on Saturday, May 14 at 8pm on BBC One.

Press Association

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