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Here's everything you wanted to know about this year's Eurovision but were afraid to ask

Do we have a chance? When’s it on? Australia are in it?

Updated 8/5/18

IT’S THAT TIME of year again. The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and Marty Whelan is going to spend an evening in a very small space telling us about obscure European musicians.

And no, it’s not an overhaul of Winning Streak we’re talking about here, it’s time again for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Ireland’s many victories may feel a distant memory now, but there is still a certain fondness for the competition, which is now in its 63rd year.

So, do we have a chance? Where’s it on? Who should you vote for? Here’s everything you need to know…

1a893438ef2bc72ba6c59fa886610d12 Our own Ryan O'Shaughnessy is representing Ireland Source: Thomas Haines

Where is it happening?

Lisbon, Portugal is set to be home to the Eurovision for the very first time. Parque das Nações is the venue to the east of the city.

So Portugal won last year?

They did indeed. Salvador Sobral romped to a surprise victory in Kiev last year with his song Amar Pelos Dois.

Here he is, singing the song written by his sister:

Source: Eurovision Song Contest/YouTube

Who are we sending?

A potentially familiar face to Irish soap fans, Ryan O’Shaughnessy is representing Ireland with the song Together.

Formerly a child actor on Fair City, O’Shaughnessy quit the show at the age of 17 to pursue a career in music.

He’s appeared on shows such as The Voice of Ireland and Britain’s Got Talent. His performance on the latter, singing a song he wrote called No Name, has over 45 million views on YouTube.

And here’s his Eurovision entry, which was penned by Mark Caplice, Laura Elizabeth Hughes and O’Shaughnessy.

Source: Eurovision Song Contest/YouTube

What are our chances?

Eh… not great.

The bookies have us at 150/1 to win the whole thing which doesn’t inspire the most confidence.

Our recent track record at the Eurovision isn’t that great (Playing with Numbers, anyone?) and we’re also up against the odds when it comes to qualifying for the final.

The odds with the bookies for Ireland to qualify from Semi-Final One are 4/1, with only Iceland less fancied to progress to the final.

So we’re in the semi-finals first?

We are indeed. Most of the 43 entries this year have to qualify for next Saturday’s grand final. In all, 26 will make it to the big night.

We’re up in the first semi-final on this evening. Israel are favourites for the whole thing, and they’re in our semi-final. We’re also up against the likes of the Belgians, Greeks, Armenians, Albanians and Lithuanians in our semi-final.

Sweden are the favourites to get through the other semi final, with Ukraine, Russia and Latvia also fancied. San Marino, however, are the rank outsiders to progress. Australia, a relative newcomer to the contest, is also in the second semi-final, and highly likely to get through.

The Israeli entry is Netta and she’s singing Toy… our one is as good as that isn’t it?

Source: Eurovision Song Contest/YouTube

Why are some countries going straight into the final?

Well, Portugal won it last year so they’re straight through to the final.

They’re already joined by the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy in the final.

Why?

Because those countries pay up most of the money for the event.

A slightly heartwarming thought however is that despite Ireland not even getting to the final yet, our odds are the same as the UK’s to win the whole thing.

How does the voting system work?

Right so, you can only vote in the semi-final that you country takes part in. This may be a good thing, but the UK can also vote in our semi-final.

You cannot vote for the country that you are voting from.

Televotes make up 50% of the result, and the other 50% are being determined by a professional jury in each participating country, and TheJournal.ie‘s own Aoife Barry is on the Irish judging panel this year.

Source: Eurovision Song Contest/YouTube

Who’s gonna guide us through proceedings?

As usual we’re in good hands, whichever channel we choose to watch it on.

Marty Whelan will be handling things for RTÉ, while Graham Norton will be taking care of business for the BBC.

You can expect the usual quips along with a grave sense of despair as neighbouring countries give each other 12 points, as usual.

Who’s going to win it?

The aforementioned Israeli entry is by far the favourite to win the whole thing, but the French, Australian and Norwegian entries are fancied to do well.

But then again, the Portuguese entry came out of nowhere to win last year, so who knows?

After a thoroughly unscientific listen to many of the favourites, the camp kitsch normally associated with the Eurovision seems to have taken a back seat for a more modern pop sound. (Cases in point: The French entry is quite good. The Australian one is decent too.)

When it’s on?

The first semi-final airs tonight on RTÉ Two at 8pm, with the second semi airing at the same time on Thursday.

The big finish is this Saturday at 8pm.

7d37d337c3af547b2572339f5c13af4f Ryan giving it socks Source: Andres Putting

Best of luck, Ryan…

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About the author:

Sean Murray

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