Eurovision fever has gripped the North West with Strabane hopeful Ryan Dolan preparing to conquer the continent in tomorrow night’s final.
The Strabane singer will have the country behind him when he takes to the stage in Malmo to perform his self-composed number ‘Only Love Survives’.
Speaking after his entry finished in the top ten during Tuesday night’s semi-final, Ryan said he was “absolutely thrilled”.
His parents were in Malmo to cheer him on and they were joined by other family and friends who flew to Sweden to support the local hero yesterday.
“I have such an amazing team behind me,” Ryan said.
He added that performing to 15,000 people in the arena and 125 million viewers around the world was “such a buzz”. However, he added that waiting for the results was “nerve racking”.
“When they called Ireland and my name I was so excited and relieved all in one go, it was such a rush.”
Staff at the family business ‘The Travellers Rest’ will getting behind the singer tomorrow night. One member of staff told the ‘Journal’, “He’s an excellent performer, we’re all very proud of him and sure he’ll do very well.”
That’s a belief shared by former Eurovision winner Johnny Logan, who told Ryan: “It’s a great achievement to get through to the final and great to do it the way you did,” he told the 27 year-old.
“Everyone here in Ireland is really proud of you. Once you’re through the semi-final the pressure is off so just enjoy it and you’ll do great,” he added.
UK entry Bonnie Tyler described Ryan’s song as “the one that really stands out”. “The Irish song is really good, and in the semi-final on Tuesday they even managed to lift it up another notch, it’s definitely one to watch.
Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, has congratulated the Strabane singer. Mr McGuinness said he was “confident” that Ryan can do Ireland and the North West proud. I know that the people of Derry, Tyrone and Donegal in particular will be rooting for him when he takes to the stage in the final. I wish Ryan all the best on Saturday night.”