Ireland’s hopeful Ryan O’Shaughnessy is confident he can go all the way in the Eurovision final tonight in Lisbon.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, he said the journey he has gone on so far has been incredible, but there is still much more to be done.
“I think the work isn’t done yet, I think we have a really good chance this year.
“Everything has been going good for us so far. The team is great, we couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be here with, and the Irish fans who travelled to be here.”
Controversy raged after Chinese broadcaster Mango TV censored Ireland’s same-sex dance routine to accompany Ryan’s song ‘Together’.
Ryan backs the Eurovision ban of China – revealing he felt it was important to stage his song using a gay couple to send out a message of hope.
As the controversy made headlines around the world, bookies experienced a surge in support for the Irish entry.
Ireland is now third favourite behind Cyprus and Israel to win the contest – potentially extending our Eurovision record to eight wins.
The Dubliner (25) revealed he fully supports the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) decision to ban China from broadcasting the contest.
“Eurovision is all aboard, it’s about celebrating diversity. What they did by censoring our performance was going completely against that,” he told the Irish Independent in Lisbon.
“It was the correct decision by the EBU. We’re all in this together, and people are really understanding what we’re doing with this performance.”
The performance is the first in the contest’s 63-year history to feature a same-sex couple – and Ryan said he wanted to do it to send a positive message.
“Having a gay couple was really important. This is coming from a straight man – a lot of people asked me why I was doing it if I’m not gay. It’s because my nephew could be gay, or my kids could be gay.”
On the 6.45am Ryanair flight to Lisbon yesterday, the Eurovision was the dominant subject, with the hope of extending our Eurovision record to eight wins hovering on the horizon.
While most fans headed to the Eurovision Village in Praça do Comércio, those without a ticket headed to the Altice Arena, where queues of fans were already camping in the baking Portuguese sun.
Outside the delegation tent Eurovision fans waited holding brochures.
The first dress rehearsal was winding down and according to those lining the barricades it was an ideal time to get selfies.
Eurovision veteran Marty Whelan said the diversity is what brings people back.
“There is and there always will be the mad stuff,” he added.
“Pyrotechnics and men jumping out of God knows where. And staircases on fire, that sort of thing …but there are some great songs this year.”
He says he has a much more vested interest in the competition since we made it out of the ‘Semi-final of Death’.
He added: “It was hugely exciting when they read the names and I may have let my feelings out [and said I needed to lie down in a darkened room] but sometimes you have to let yourself go.”
Eurovision will be shown live on RTÉ One tonight at 8pm.