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Niamh feels no pressure to repeat Euro triumph

EUROVISION entrant Niamh Kavanagh has revealed she has no qualms about entering the competition a second time because "the Irish public are not going to blame me for not winning".

Despite having won the contest in 1993, the Naas singer insisted she is feeling no pressure to repeat her earlier success, explaining: "Win, lose or draw I'm proud to be singing the song." And the 42-year-old said this week's result won't affect the fact that she already has one win under her belt.

Niamh and her entourage have already completed two rehearsals for Thursday night's semi-finals in Oslo, and will spend tomorrow in intensive dress rehearsals.

Speaking to the Herald, the flame-haired songstress revealed her satisfaction that the novelty element to the entries has all but disappeared this year.

She explained: "I feel that this year there is very little novelty, everyone is thinking more about the song and that's very heartening. There is some element of dance songs but I've noticed Belgium and Sweden in particular have very high-quality vocals and of course we're very much about the song. I want people to feel the energy from the performance, not from what's going on around me."

Her first rehearsals in Oslo have already earned praise from devoted fans, who have earmarked It's For You as a major contender at Saturday night's final. Yet because Ireland's Sinead Mulvey and her band Black Daisy failed to impress last year, Niamh is also facing a qualifying round on Thursday night.

Despite the hectic schedule, she insisted she's having a ball, explaining: "The only difference between now and 17 years ago is that it's longer and because of the semi-finals things are split. There are 40 countries so it's difficult to get to meet everyone, but it's great. In 1993, the biggest thing for me was that I was the local representative, so even if I went into a shop I had people coming up to me and talking which was great but also exhausting."