Will Ireland qualify for the Eurovision final? Our expert has his say
With Ireland set to compete in tonight's Eurovision Semi Final, our expert puts his 90pc prediction record on the line to call our chances.
IS Brendan Murray's Eurovision balloon about to burst?
That's the one and only balloon pun in this piece - if you don't get it you will after watching tonight.
Ireland's hasn't made the grand final of the Eurovision since 2013, let down by average songs with dire staging.
A good Eurovision entry is much like a glitter-encrusted cake - your song is your base and the staging is all the icing and frilly bits you put on to make it look good.
No amount of bells and whistles will compensate for a bad song; but likewise without good staging you're just left with a manky looking sponge.
We haven't sent a poor song since 2007's abysmally bad 'Can't stop the Spring' by Dervish (if you can't remember it, do yourself a favour and don't look it up). Even Dustin had some redeeming features.
But where we've really fallen down in recent years is our staging. The last time we had a well-staged song in 2013, we qualified for the final.
So this year RTE have recruited Louis Walsh to lend a hand - not only is he behind some of Ireland's most successful pop acts, he's also behind several successful (and even victorious) and Irish Eurovision entries.
So will we be seeing Brendan Murray perform 'Dying to Try' again on Saturday?
We have to take a look at the competition tonight to see what our chances our of being one of the ten qualifiers.
There are three dead cert qualifiers in my mind - Bulgaria and Romania.
There are only two absolute no hopers - San Marino and Lithuania.
So that leaves 13 countries fighting for eight remaining slots.
Belarus have a sufficiently different folk song to stand out from the pack and make it too.
There's a strong contingent of Balkan countries in this semi, so at least one will get through - in this case Croatia.
One more will probably get over the line out of Serbia and Macedonia - I think Macedonia has the stronger song.
So we're down to five slots.
Estonia's song screams bottom five in the final, but is generic enough that it should pick up enough votes to make it over the line.
Denmark have a decent qualification record and a song and performance that should see them in the top ten.
Israel have the luck of the draw on their side, and coming last in the running order should see them scrap enough votes to get through.
Hungary have a strong qualification record and a song that is different enough to pull in enough votes to make the top ten.
I don't think a strong jury performance will be enough to see Brendan over the line and I think Netherlands will take the final slot.
An earlier version of this article was published in error and it has since been updated.
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