Eurovision singer Ryan O'Shaughnessy: 'We have been the underdogs since we came here ...I hope RTE can afford it'
It had been labelled both the ‘Eurovision semi-final of death’ and ‘The Bloodbath’, given the sheer intensity of competition.
But last night Irish hopeful Ryan O’Shaughnessy did us proud by securing Ireland a spot in the Eurovision Grand final - for the first time since 2013.
Ryan O'Shaughnessy got through the semi-final stage, in Lisbon, with the song Together, about the end of a love affair, which featured two male dancers telling the story of a couple on stage.
Ireland was the last country to be read out by the hosts in Lisbon creating a cliff hanger moment for Irish Eurovision fans - and the delegation.
Speaking afterwards Ryan said; "We were beside Switzerland and for a moment I thought this is it we're out.
But something inside just said 'that can't be it' and the camera moved over and they called out Ireland. They left us last for a reason..."
Ryan believes Ireland is now close to restoring its reputation at the singing contest and revisit 'Ireland's glory years' during the 1990s.
"We have been the underdogs since we came here and no one thinks Ireland has what it had," he explained.
"But we made the Eurovision what it was and we are going to make it what it is in the future. We are going to win it on Saturday.
"Dublin for 2019. Unfortunately for RTE I hope they can afford it. I am feeling so happy and I am feeling so proud of my team."
RTE's Eurovision Head of Delegation Micheal Kealy said they are now "gunning" for the final on Saturday night.
"We will regroup on Thursday and go into Friday and Saturday and gunning for it," he said.
The other nine countries to make it through were Austria, Estonia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Albania, and Lithuania.
Israel led the way when it came to the most eccentric performances, with its singer “clucking like a chicken”.
Netta Barzilai, who performed her song Toy, has been the favourite with bookmakers to win this year’s competition.
She was dubbed “Bjork on steroids” for her energetic performance.
The successful countries will join automatic qualifiers France, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal at the final on Friday.
Ireland last won the Eurovision in 1996, and O’Shaughnessy described the challenge of making it through to the final as ‘mammoth’.
With an average audience of 200 million, more people watch the Eurovision than the Superbowl.
And it’s global appeal looks set to grow. This week former RTE Director General and current European Broadcasting Union (EBU) DG Noel Curran, said the singing contest had “a life beyond Europe”.
He said his team were looking at how to bring it to audiences beyond the continent. “For us, it is how we expand the core Eurovision brand beyond Europe and building awareness.”