Tuesday 15 October 2019

Eurovision 2019: 'Things don't always go your way' - Sarah McTernan emotional as Ireland fails to qualify for final

Ireland’s Sarah McTernan (Andres Putting)
Ireland’s Sarah McTernan (Andres Putting)
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Ireland has failed to qualify for the Eurovision final with the song '22'..

Sarah McTernan (25) from Clare became emotional while speaking about those who have supported and mentored her in the run up to last night's semi-final.

Speaking to press following the results announcement, Sarah said she was "really happy" with her performance on the night.

"I felt really happy in myself," she said. "One thing I just wanted to look back was just to be happy and comfortable with my performance myself and you know what?  I was happy.

"All of the team worked so hard and they're absolutely incredible and things don't always go your way but we're looking on the bright side and we're happy."

Sarah became emotional while speaking about the support she has received from the team, particularly head of delegation Michael Kealy, and the people at home but she remained upbeat and said she is planning to meet up with family and friends for celebratory drinks.

"To be honest we still put a lot of work in and we're happy with the work we've done and it's celebratory drinks at the end of the day."

Sarah and Michael Rice from the UK became friends over the course of the past week and he complimented her on her performance.

"I thought she was absolutely incredible. I thought she was pitch perfect. I remember watching it on the screen upstairs and I just thought 'you absolutely smashed it," he told Sarah.

"I was so proud of you back up there and this is not the end for you so I wouldn't worry.  You're so talented. I think I'm going to start crying."

Michael Kealy added that although Sarah sang really well she faced a "really, really strong semi-final, much stronger than semi-final one and the draw in terms of the running order didn't do us any favours either as we were in a nortoriously difficult position which is number two."

He continued, "But that's the breaks.  It's a tough tough competition, it's not as easy as it once was, there are over 40 countries taking part, it's a difficult, difficult competition and it attracts top professionals from around Europe and other countries plough in huge resources into the competition which unfortunately a small broadcaster like RTE just doesn't have so we have to be clever with what we do with the limited resouces we have and to be perfectly honest I think this year we put together a really credible act."

The eighteen acts on the night were vying for ten places in the final and Sarah unfortunately did not make the final cut.

The 10 finalists going through to Saturday night are: North Macedonia, The Netherlands, Albania, Sweden, Russia, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and Malta.

The Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence – the favourite to win the contest – was among those who did make it through, alongside fellow frontrunners Sweden’s John Lundvik and Russia’s Sergey Lazarev.

Some cast doubt on whether 25-year-old Laurence’s stripped-back staging would connect with an audience watching at home.

Those doubts proved unfounded after his name was called as one of 10 entries through to the 26-strong final on Saturday.

Lundvik also qualified after an emotive performance of his gospel-tinged track Too Late For Love.

Lazarev moved through to the final after wowing the audience with his impassioned performance of the song Scream.

North Macedonia’s Tamara Todevska, Albania’s Jonida Maliqi, Azerbaijan’s Chingiz, Denmark’s Leonora, Norway’s KEiiNO, Switzerland’s Luca Hanni and Malta’s Michela also qualified.

Armenia’s Srbuk, Moldova’s Anna Odobescu, Latvia’s Carousel, Romania’s Ester Peony, Austria’s PAENDA, Croatia’s Roko and Lithuania’s Jurij Veklenko did not.

The public vote made up 50% of the total vote, with the other half determined by a professional jury in each participating country.

The UK, as one of the “big five” countries, along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, are already assured of a place in the grand final.

Last year’s winners Israel also do not have to qualify via the semi-finals.

Eurovision 2019 second semi-final as it happened - Ireland fail to make the final in Tel Aviv 

Eurovision has come under fire from the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign which accuses Israel of using music to 'whitewash' its policy towards Palestinians.

On Tuesday, pop icon Madonna responded to criticism from Palestinian activists about her plan to perform at the final on Saturday night, stating that she wanted to use her performance to create "a new path toward peace".

Pressure has also been mounting in Ireland in recent weeks. Last month LGBT campaigners signed an open letter to Sarah urging her to boycott the contest. 

The authors of the letter, who are part of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, also claimed the Middle Eastern country is supporting the LGBT community for the purpose of “whitewashing” its oppression of the Palestinian people.

The 19 signatories to the letter included prominent campaigners such as Senator David Norris and Ailbhe Smyth.

None of the 42 acts taking part in Eurovision have pulled out.

However, speaking ahead of the first semi-final on Tuesday, Ms McTernan said, "I respect everybody’s opinion, completely and utterly. For me, I’m just really, really happy to represent my country.  I’m really honoured to be representing in Eurovision 2019 for Ireland."

She added that Eurovision is "all about the music" and "all about bringing people together".

"You’d only have to kind of be at the event, at one of the Eurovision ensembles where people are mixing as in right before our performances to know that it really does bring people together from all walks of life.

"Look at Hatari and then Australia. It really is heartwarming. I’ve really made true friends for life. For me music is about love, music is about friendship, and bringing people together, and that’s what it’s all about."

Hatari, the BDSM band representing Iceland in the contest, have stated that Eurovision in Israel is "built on a lie" but opted to take part and have made it through to the final with their song Hate Will Prevail'.

On Saturday night, several high profile Irish artists including Kila, Christy Moore and former Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan, will take part in the ‘Palestine: You’re a Vision’ concert at the bar venue of the National Stadium.

Additional reporting by PA.

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