Michael Kealy remains firm in his position as the Head of Delegation for Ireland. Following a series of non-qualifications at Eurovision he gifted us Ryan O’Shaughnessy last year, putting Ireland solidly in the final and helping generate a great deal of press for RTÉ along the way. 

Michael — a giant of Irish television who oversees iconic entertainment programming including the wildly popular Rose of Tralee — recently spoke to Irish local radio station Liffey Sound FM. He expressed his full confidence in this year’s entrant Sarah McTernan. He said that he always knew Ryan would qualify and now thinks the same of Sarah.

“We had a strong semi-final last year and everyone said we wouldn’t qualify, everyone said we would struggle to qualify…and we qualified comfortably. I am not writing our chances off by any means and I think she has a very, very strong chance to qualify.”

And why is that?

“A lot of those songs are very similar. A lot of them have a big ballad-y kind of song. Ours is different — ours will stand out for being different. There are also a lot of male vocals going on there. We don’t [have that]. We have a female vocal. That will differentiate us as well.”

Michael also revealed that the song wasn’t originally written for Sarah — or any woman for that matter! When the selection panel at RTÉ first heard the song they really liked it. But the demo actually featured a male singer’s vocal. RTÉ subsequently auditioned several artists. At that time even Michael thought that the song should have been sung by a man.

But after hearing Sarah’s version, RTÉ had a rethink. They were enthusiastic about her unique style and vibe, which took the song to another level.

In terms of the betting odds, Ireland lags behind as usual. Sarah is lightyears away from the favourites, including the Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence and Russia’s Sergey Lazarev. Michael is non-plussed by it all.

“It suits us to be a bit of the underdog, but not only in Eurovision, also in sports.”

He followed that up by saying it’s better to be a bit under-the-radar than to be a red hot favourite. When you’re at the top the only direction you can go is down.

He thinks the contest is still wide open and that nobody will be able to call it until the day. Speaking for himself as a music enthusiast and viewer, he does not see Sweden as a threat and isn’t worried that they will break Ireland’s record of having the most wins of all countries.

The Russian song didn’t do so much for him either — but he understands that that’s just his personal opinion. Plenty of fans are going gaga over it.

One song he was actually a fan of was “Hatrið mun sigra” from Iceland’s Hatari.

“I actually like the Icelandic song. It is a bit of a zombie-rock song. They are a visual act. They are a little bit like Lordi, but not as cartoon-ish. But I think the song is really strong. I think it’s the dark horse.”

Full interview – Michael Kealy speaks to Liffey Sound FM

Michael Kealy subsequently confirmed that Sarah McTernan will show up at the pre-parties in London and Amsterdam, and potentially the Moscow Pre-Party. Michael sees them as vital for the entrants to get experience performing in front of big audiences. It also boosts the spirit of camaraderie among acts.

And that, of course, is what makes Eurovision the event that it is. He once again emphasised that Eurovision is a music competition and nothing else. Despite the calls for Ireland to boycott Eurovision in recent months, RTÉ never questioned whether to send an act to Tel Aviv.

Are you as confident in Sarah McTernan’s chances of qualifying as Michael? Let us know in the comments below!

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It's me
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It's me

You guys remember Isaura from last year’s Portugal? A bit off topic, but I found her new song, and it’s AWESOME! What do you think? Here’s the link https://youtu.be/1y86Arl69ig

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

it sounds like an anne-marie song, to me her voice is perfect for it. another male from ireland would’ve been boring, they ain’t no sweden after all

avner
Guest
avner

Michael Kealy has not done his homework: Ireland 2018 qualified primarily for its moving staging — the audience reaction to the dancers made this clear. Comparing these 2 acts for prediction based on song alone does not generate confidence in his expertise.

Whi
Guest
Whi

My first impression was based on the song and the video, I did love the song but dancers made me LOVE it. I LOVED it in the semi and cheered when it qualified. But yes, I agree that it qualified based on staging.

I like Sarah’s voice and the melody but came to the conclusion that the lyrics are meh. The 2018 entry was so poetic and that plus the staging set the standard quite high IMO.

Ani
Guest

Irelands song did great on Spotify and in the charts so that tired argument is redundant

avner
Guest
avner

Which song? Which year? Which tired argument? Note that Spotify listeners and Eurovision voters are not necessarily the same. You may also remember poor Belgium last year – they so trusted their great song (A Matter of Time) that they “forgot” to stage it and failed to qualify.

Ron
Guest
Ron

Interesting to hear how the song was chosen. 22 was selected as the entry first (as the version that was submitted was a demo featuring one of the male songwriters) and then RTE held auditions by inviting people in and they were particularly impressed with Sarah’s version

Excellent idea for Sarah to attend all of the preview parties, that should do a lot for her confidence and make her comfortable with the song

A lot of criticism of Kealy here but if Ireland actually qualifies, he can say the selection system worked very well this year

frysk
Guest
frysk

For me the worst song this year. have tried to like it but I truely can’t stand it. Her voice sounds like she has a terrible cold. And if I hadn’t known the title 22 I would have heard: I’m a tranny too. Sorry…

Ani
Guest

You’re total trash goodbye.

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

amen 🙂

Mark
Guest
Mark

Worst song this year?!! Oh come on!!! Don’t exaggerate

dutchie
Guest
dutchie

I think the song doesn’t really suit her. It’s not a bad song, nor a bad singer, but the combination doesn’t work for me. She looks quite bored singing it.

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

Assume you are talking about the official video – she looks bored to me too.

Tomatinho
Guest
Tomatinho

She looks like she isn’t interested. Just random Irish boring song. No hate, good luck, I like the song a bit

Jonas J
Guest
Jonas J

I’m going to vote for this one. I really like it! Fresh in a retro-way. Not the usually soulless plastic-sound!

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

you should better vote for Netherlands, King Duncan cause like that you won’t waste your money to vote for a winner 🙂

Olivia Mac Arthur
Guest
Olivia Mac Arthur

Your argument seems to be, don’t vote for who you like, vote for who the odds tell you to like. That’s a bit of an sad way to look at the world.

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

LOL, of course i know everyone else has a different opinion, even i will just vote for who i like, not for who odds tell me to like

mine are very much underrated in odds, but i don’t care, i never cared about odds that much

my apologies for acting weird on here, too biased and over the top towards duncan, that isn’t the real me

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

haven’t really listened to the song yet honestly

AM2PM
Guest
AM2PM

Thanks for this pointless contribution

bastian
Guest
bastian

lol basically everything he writes is pointless hihi

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

not true 🙁 and i don’t dislike any of the songs this year a first for me which i am amazed about

elizabeth
Guest
elizabeth

This song is just kinda…bland. There’s nothing special about it, it’s just a generic ‘breakup/I miss you’ type song with a beat on it. And the ’22’ part only makes sense to the songwriter. Of course the HoD would say there’s a strong chance of qualifying, but it really doesn’t.

James
Guest
James

Like “Together” was?

elizabeth
Guest
elizabeth

This article, and my comment were about the song 22. I never wanted to or intend to compare the songs.

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

Can’t agree with him about the “strong chance of qualifying”.
Ireland’s not the worst song in its semi final but even for an optimistic fan of the song, it is difficult to see how it finishes above eight other songs. Am glad that Ireland are doing their own thing (both in ESC and JESC) though.

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

it’s one of the worst in semi 2, not a shame since that is a really strong semi

UmBv
Guest
UmBv

You literally just wrote above that you haven’t listened to the song yet… and now you’re calling it one of the worst in the semi -_-

Joe
Guest
Joe

To him, if it isn’t the Netherlands, it automatically isn’t as good. There was one thread where he immediately flipped from saying it’s slow and overrated to saying it’s the rightful winner. Whichever opinion is the most annoying at a given moment.

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

wait wait wait wait

i never said our entry is too slow 🙁 i think of arcade as decent, and i personally would be happy already with a top 10 result

i hate all this teaming up against me thing, i like all entries

i just haven’t listened to ireland’s song a lot yet, so i don’t know how to feel about it

Olivia Mac Arthur
Guest
Olivia Mac Arthur

If you haven’t decided how you feel about the song yet then maybe calling it one of the worst songs in the semi and upsetting people who genuinely like the song might be a bit premature. You can’t say you dislike the song and then say wait I haven’t made up my mind yet. You seem to be on a constant cycle of offending and defending.

Paul
Guest
Paul

If one one’s getting upset by a comment on the internet about a song they need to take a long hard look at their life

Joe
Guest
Joe

From the “2020 hosting plan” thread, and I quote:
“Netherlands the arrogant once again

and i’m dutch lmao, but this is why i’m sometimes ashamed to be dutch

arcade is decent but not a winner, it is most overhyped song this year honestly”

Minutes later:
“Duncan Laurence remember the name he’s all time best artist in the world, even the universe same as Iriao last year for Georgia

nothing can go wrong for Netherlands this year, no staging can ruin it for him he also won’t vocally mess up cause he’s perfect”

So, you didn’t say it was slow. I’ll give you that.

stommie
Guest
stommie

If I didn’t know better I would guess he is a Russian troll paid by the Kremlin. Unfortunately I know his behaviour far too well from escforum, where he is notorious for exactly this. You can expect a little kid to act like that, not someone who is nearly thirty.

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

far too well from escforum, umm you literally have joined there recently

i am not a troll i swear, i just have some mental problems ok

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

i’m just a bit weird, i’m never supporting my own country honestly

Sarah is a gorgeous singer, i followed her on the voice of ireland, she did well coming 4th

i did listen to her song today, and yesterday few times, it isn’t a bad song, depends on how they stage it

Ani
Guest

You said it’s the worst song then now you haven’t heard it

Ron
Guest
Ron

This was said about Ryan last year, that he had virtually no chance of getting out of the semi of death. Even many of the bloggers in the arena on the day of the semi final were confidently predicting he wouldn’t qualify…..the song was too ‘boring’ and ‘forgettable’ etc

Peter M
Guest
Peter M

I was very critical of Michael Kealy before but I think he’s steering Ireland in the right direction now. If Ireland can qualify for the final, I will be really happy. I like that we’re taking a risk this year. I don’t think the song is amazing but it is a borderline qualifier. I’m hoping they have something amazing planned for the staging.

INAMOO
Guest
INAMOO

He better not let Sarah down until May. The song is promising for plenty of listeners who really appreciate it.

Skiwalko
Guest
Skiwalko

A lot of people are complaining about Ireland giving us the same stuff every year, but to be fair – which other country gives us this kind of entries? Ireland is adding a unique flavour to the contest every year and last year it finally paid off. And to be fair, if she nails that vocal, I seriously see the Emirald isle going to the final with no problem.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Great that they’re giving something different, but what’s the point if no one votes for it?

Guilbert
Guest
Guilbert

Well until now it is not on the Spotify. So I don’t think it will generate more awareness to the voters.

Olivia Mac Arthur
Guest
Olivia Mac Arthur

It’ll be on Spotify on the 5th of April he said in the broadcast. Apparently it’s been difficult figuring out a release date for the streaming due to slightly changing some part of the song

Ani
Guest

I heard there might be a revamp, did that happen?

Olivia Mac Arthur
Guest
Olivia Mac Arthur

Apparently there will be a small difference between the stage version and this version. I believe the Spotify version which will be released on April 5th will be slightly revamped, nothing major though, but small changes can make or break a song.

Ani
Guest

Excited

Michèle
Guest
Michèle

How is Iceland a ‘dark horse’? – it’s currently 7th in the odds. Oh that Ireland could produce anything even vaguely as imaginative as that – speaking as an Irishwoman.

James
Guest
James

Because the odds are meaningless?

Loin dici
Guest
Loin dici

Since they even failed with Greta Salome, anything could happen at this point. Let’s wait for the rehearsals.

Atari 2600
Guest
Atari 2600

Countries like Belgium, Greece, France, Bulgaria and Finland were in the top 10 of the betting odds last year before the rehearsals, and all of these failed to reach the top 10 (2 of which didn’t even qualify)

Olivia Mac Arthur
Guest
Olivia Mac Arthur

Talking as an irishwoman myself I say we can get even more creative than Iceland this year, unless you dare to forget Dustin, who was actually top ten in the odds the year he was in it!!! Learn the lessons we learned from Dustin the Turkey and plenty of other acts. The odds at this stage, are completely and utterly meaningless.

Olivia Mac Arthur
Guest
Olivia Mac Arthur

Scrap part of that. I just found out Dustin was third in the betting odds in 2008!

James
Guest
James

Only proves how annoying bookies truly are.

Michèle
Guest
Michèle

I agree that the odds can change over the course of a few months. My main point however is that Iceland is not a ‘dark horse’ and is amongst the favourites with many commentators and fans.

Joshua
Guest
Joshua

Well, I certainly would have appreciated a man singing “Everytime I’m with somebody, I’m confusing *him* with you”.
This is a dark horse. It’ll be a borderline qualifier, but I’m sure it’ll go through, although we must say that all depends on the staging.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

I don’t think he can be proud of his very dire Eurovision record that might likely be back to the usual non-qualification this year. If being under the radar with really bad betting odds is a good thing, then my country can win this year. Austria’s odds are even worse than Ireland’s. If the juries are going to save a drowning act, I hope its ours. It is the first song we have ever sent that got to me and the first time I feel like a jury save is warranted. “22” stands out for not having anything to make… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

What a nice guy. I honestly like his attitude.

Miyaya
Guest
Miyaya

He likes Hatrið mun sigra but has he ever considered letting Ireland send something that risky? Probably not.

James
Guest
James

Either RTE’s not interested or no one’s knocking on their doorstep to be considered.

Olivia Mac Arthur
Guest
Olivia Mac Arthur

Apparently Johnny Rotten, frontman of the sex pistols really wants to represent Ireland at the Eurovision and will continue to send in songs until he is chosen. Plus on his watch we sent Dustin the Turkey and Jedward. You wanna talk risky? Try sending a puppet turkey and hyper pair of near identical twins

Miyaya
Guest
Miyaya

And those “risky” choices are some of my favorite Irish entries of all time.

Padraig Muldoon
Editor

Michael was HoD in 2008 and from 2013 to now. Jedward weren’t under his watch.

Atari 2600
Guest
Atari 2600

This guy seriously needs to step down, if Ireland want a good result again!

Liam Holton
Guest
Liam Holton

God no! He’s a great fella!