Niamh's Eurovision final bid is a real family affair

Aoife Finneran

TOMORROW night's Eurovision semi-final will be a family affair for Irish hopeful Niamh Kavanagh as she will be joined on stage by her first cousin -- also called Niamh Kavanagh.

The singer, who won the contest in 1993, will be surrounded by loved ones in the run-up to the semi-final as her husband Paul is also jetting out to Oslo to be with her.

Niamh (42) revealed that a loyal army of family members and supporters will be tuning in at home as she prepares to propel Ireland into Saturday night's finals.

And her two biggest fans, her sons, will be watching on TV in Galway with their cousins. She explained: "They're a bit young to be over here. I've sat through a Eurovision and I know how long it is."

She added: "The boys know that I've always sung, and I've been on TV a few times, but they weren't ready for the level of response in the last few months. They didn't know how well known I was, but I'm still their mammy and it's very important that they still think that way. I think it'll probably kick in a little bit more when they get to Galway, but they're generally a bit embarrassed about it all!"

The down-to-earth singer was today taking part in three dress rehearsals ahead of tomorrow night's show, but insisted she wasn't suffering from any nerves.

"I'm very relaxed to be honest. From today I'll be shutting down a bit, going into survival mode and concentrating on doing the performances. The big pressure is to focus on what you're doing and do it right.

"We have three dress rehearsals today so by the time we get to do the real thing tomorrow night I'll be quite relaxed."

Despite all the preparations, she revealed she has had time to catch a few sights around Norway.

"We've been having a lovely time," she enthused. "We went on a trip up towards the Arctic Circle thanks to Norwegian Airways and it was amazing. I dressed up in the traditional costume. Pom poms have always been a good look for me! We also visited all the sights in Oslo, which involved a lot of naked statues and me standing strategically in front of them!"

While bookmakers have backed Azerbaijan as the likely winner on Saturday night, Ireland is expected to ease through Thursday's semi-final, with odds of 16/1 on winning the competition outright.