CHARLEVILLE singer Keith Hanley last Sunday underlined why he is the outright favourite to win this years Voice of Ireland talent competition.
The second live heats of the show saw the 19-year-old student raise the roof of Dublin's Helix Theatre - prompting competition judge Bressie to compare him to pop superstar Olly Murs.
Keith brought the studio audience to their feet with his stunning version of Madcon's 'Beggin' - breezing into the last 16 of the competition.
With Fermoy's Kelly Mongan and Shannon Murphy from Castletownroche also through to the second live round of the competition, the odds are getting even better that the outright winner may well hail from the North Cork region.
Paddy Power is quoting Keith at 9/2 to win outright followed closely by Shannon at 5/1 with the bookies quoting odds of 10/1 on Kelly to win.
Speaking to The Corkman Keith said it was fantastic to see the region so well represented at this stage of the competition.
"Given that we are all from the same area, it was amazing that we have all received such strong support from the public," he said.
"What has also been brilliant is the way that the three of us have bonded together. Of course there will be a bit of friendly rivalry, but we are all in it together and help each other when we can," he added.
However, Keith needed no help to wow the studio audience and voting public last Sunday night as he belted out the tune initially made famous by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
The four judges were also suitably impressed, awarding Keith 38 out of a maximum 40 points - the highest score achieved by any of the competitors in this year's competition.
Afterwards, Bressie, who gave him 10 out of 10 marks, said Keith had a similar stage presence to X-Factor star Murs.
"The comments from all the judges were simply incredible. Last Sunday was a night that I will never, ever forget. I am the kind of person that doubts myself but after Sunday my confidence is sky high," said Keith.
However, he is the first to admit that while he has been installed as favourite, there is still a long way to go and a lot of singing to be done.
"Anything can happen on a live show, so the pressure is on but that is a good thing. It helps you to focus and stops you from becoming complacent," he said.
"I am enjoying the whole experience and if I win that will be great but if I don't then I will be able to walk away with so many great memories and new friends."