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Niamh admits to last-minute nerves but will dress to impress

SHE might look every inch the poised performer, but Eurovision hopeful Niamh Kavanagh has admitted she'll be plagued by nerves as she takes to the stage in Oslo tonight.

The flame-haired singer (42) revealed: "There's no doubt when it comes to standing on the stage tonight my heart will be in my mouth."

However, with 24 years on the singing circuit under her belt, the star insisted there's no point in wasting time on a last-minute panic.

She explained: "I learned something very important the time I went to the Grammys with The Commitments. I was looking at all these big stars and I realised they weren't doing anything different to what we were doing.

"Sometimes it can be harder singing to a room of seven people than it is singing to 15,000 people."

Ireland's entry must first ease past tonight's semi-final in order to make it to Saturday night's final, but Niamh and her entourage aren't feeling the pressure.

"I don't pay any attention to speculation," insisted Niamh. "All I can do is relax and concentrate on my performance. It's all I can control. You can have all the odds in the world, but in the end it's between you and the camera when you're standing there. I feel we can't fail from that point of view."

Meanwhile, her costume certainly won't disappoint, as she'll be stepping out in a regal purple, long-sleeved gown by up-and-coming designer Claire O'Connor.

The eye-catching creation features a stiff bodice made of duchess silk with hand-beaded jewel embellishments along the neckline. Several chiffon over-layers and beading along the side-slit make for a show-stopping effect.


"We wanted something that reflected the song," explained Claire O'Connor.

"I worked closely with Niamh and with Catherine, who is head of wardrobe in RTE.

"I had never designed for TV before so from their point of view they wanted something that would look great on camera.

"Niamh was really pleased with it, and I'm looking forward to seeing it on TV. I was delighted to be asked to design the dress because it's such a big event."

However, her wardrobe has attracted some controversy.

It is understood the singer had selected another dress by Dublin couturiers Tyrrell and Brennan -- but it is understood RTE asked Niamh to go for the number she donned last night at rehearsals.

Niamh and her four backing singers spent most of yesterday going through three dress rehearsals at Oslo's Telenor Arena.