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Steve Reynolds, from Kerry, and friends after last night's Eurovision semi-final.
turin proud

Fleeting hopes and a familiar crush of disappointment: Irish fans on our Eurovision knock-out

Ireland’s less-than-stellar showing in the modern contest continued last night as we failed to seal a slot in the final.

Daragh Brophy reports from Turin, Italy: 

IRELAND’S RECORD IN the Eurovision has been more miss than hit in recent years. 

It’s been almost two decades now since the introduction of the semi-final system. During that period we’ve failed to make it out of the qualifiers around half the time.

Adding insult to injury, in two of the years when we did appear in the final – in 2007 and 2013 – we finished rock bottom.

“Look it didn’t go our way,” 2022′s hopeful Brooke Scullion said last night, “but we are so, so happy with what we did.”

“It just wasn’t maybe for me right now, but maybe in the future bigger things are going to come.

“I couldn’t have done any more, and I’m so happy.”

Hoping to make it through to the decider for the first time since Ryan O’Shaughnessy in 2018, the Derry singer put in a strong performance last night. Online and around the press centre yesterday evening, Irish Eurovision watchers warily speculated that she may have done enough to make it out of the semis.

Of course, Irish Eurovision watchers always warily speculate that the entry will make it through from the semis around that time of the night every year.

By now it’s all part of the five-stage Song Contest cycle: doubt, apprehension, belief, disappointment, and deciding to put all your money on Sweden.

There’s always a sizeable Irish contingent in the crowd at semi-final night.

Speaking to us afterwards as fans from countries across Europe (and Australia) spilled out of the vast PalaOlimpico venue, Irish supporters who made the trip this year said they weren’t entirely suprised at how things turned out. 

The usual, not unreasonable, justifications all got an airing – first and foremost that geographical and political voting across the continent means it’s impossible for a country like Ireland to do well.

But the overall sentiment was that it’s been a very strong couple of years for the Eurovision: you need an outstanding song that really resonaties with the juries to have a chance of making it, or, failing that, a performance that’s enough of a novelty to rack up millions of views on social media and win over those fickle televoting fans

“Brooke gave a state of the art performance. She really did the country proud,” Dubliner Declan Burke told The Journal last night. 

“I think that Ireland needs to invest a little bit more in the competition, generally, but this year I think we really pulled it off. The staging was really good.

We were a little bit unlucky not to qualify. I mean, it’s how it goes nowadays. You need something spectacular to win the Eurovision as is evident from previous years.

Steve Reynolds, from Kerry, said the song had gone down well in the venue.

“It was very good. She had a great reception in the hall. I think people really liked it so it was a shame she didn’t get through. I think she would have done really well in the final. 

There was a sense that other countries had a higher production value – I think some other countries just put more effort into it this year.

Another fan, Colin, who spoke to us before and after the show last night said Brooke had been a big hit with the broader Eurovision fan community since arriving in Turin at the start of the month – particularly online. 

“There’s a lot of people on Reddit who were very disappointed that she didn’t qualify – along with ourselves, obviously, but she knows she did a really good job. She progressed so much from the Late Late Show so I hope she wasn’t too disappointed.”

In keeping with tradition, Colin is now switching his allegiance to Sweden for the final.

Daragh Brophy will be covering all things Eurovision from Turin up until the early hours of Sunday morning. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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