Welcome back to our coverage of Junior Eurovision Éire — Ireland’s selection show for Junior Eurovision — as it draws closer to its conclusion! Last Sunday, the Irish-language broadcaster TG4 aired the show’s Semi-Final, wherein eight wonderful young talents competed for the coveted three spots in the Grand Final. Who made it to next week’s final, and how can #YOU decide who will represent Ireland in Yerevan this December?

Guest judge Brooke Scullion, alongside Junior Eurovision Éire hosts Darragh Ó Caoimh and Louise Cantillon. Image: TG4

Firstly, let’s recap and review the Semi-Final, and discover the three young singers who are still in contention to represent Ireland.

If you’ve followed along so far, you know that each week, two permanent judges (Niamh Ní Chróinín and Chris Greene) are joined by a guest judge from Irish Eurovision history. This week, the judges were joined by no other than rich queen of Turin, Brooke Scullion!

Brooke represented Ireland in 2022 with That’s Rich, coming 15th in her Semi-Final. Although she unfortunately did not qualify for Turin’s Grand Final, Brooke remarked that she couldn’t recommend participating in Eurovision enough, noting that it provides a fantastic platform for artists. When asked what advice she would give to future Eurovision participants, Brooke noted the need to play to both the cameras and live audience — confidence is key.

The Contestants:

First up this week was Clare Keeley, performing Halo by Beyoncé. Her fabulous cover drew praise from the judging panel for being an excellent show opener. Greene referred to it as a standard-setter for the rest of the program, while Brooke gushed that Claire “looked like a little angel” and that her control over her voice was “insane.”

Sophie Lennon performing on Junior Eurovision Éire. Image: TG4

Second to the stage was the incredible Sophie Lennon, who will be familiar to longtime viewers for also doing excellently in Junior Eurovision Éire last year. Here, she sang Symphony by Zara Larsson and Clean Bandit. Brooke called the performance technical perfection, saying that Sophie’s transition from her chest voice to her falsetto was “perfect.” She also praised Sophie’s commanding stage presence, noting that Sophie’s eyes glittered and that she was excellent at moving around the stage. Sophie certainly has a bright future, as she is set to play the lead role in ‘Marine and the Kaleidoscope’ on London’s West End next year!

Our third singer of the night was Marley-Peig Leonard, with a lovely rendition of A Million Goodbyes by Lea Heart. “As soon as you opened your mouth, mine did too,” Brooke said, praising her unique and beautiful tone of voice. Greene concurred, recognising that Marley-Peig had chosen a song with not much of an instrumental, leaving her to impressively do most of the work.

Next up was Caillín Joe McDonald, this time covering James Bay’s Hold Back the River. Greene noted that Caillín Joe clearly had the confidence needed to perform on an international stage, and that he used all the space available to him for his enjoyable dancing. Ní Chróinín commended him for hitting all of the song’s high notes, and for putting on a “stand out” show. Brooke enjoyed his “twangy rock voice” and said that Caillín Joe could certainly have a career as a singer.

Niamh Noade performing alongside her harp. Image: TG4

It was then time for Niamh Noade, who impressed in her heat with her wonderful harp-playing. Niamh returned with her harp once more, this time to cover Matt Simons’ Catch or Release. Again, her beautiful performance received high praise from the judging panel. Brooke praised it as “captivating” and “therapeutic.” Ní Chróinín and Greene echoed Paul Harrington’s (guest judge during Niamh’s heat, known to Eurovision fans for winning Eurovision 1994 alongside Charlie McGettigan) prior comments, saying that it would be wonderful to see a harp on an international stage.

Lara Gleeson was next to take the spotlight, with Brave by Ella Henderson. Greene called the performance itself brave, saying that Lara really had it all, from an excellent voice, to great confidence. Ní Chróinín complimented Lara’s unique, “brilliant” voice, which “fills the room.” Brooke agreed, saying that she was impressed to see a very young person using such a raw, mature voice.

Our penultimate performer was Phoebe McIvor, who sang Cold Heart by Elton John and Dua Lipa. Brooke praised the performance as being lovely, and hilariously bestowed her crown as “Derry Lipa” to Phoebe. Ní Chróinín gave her another title — Perfect Phoebe — and praised her for having “a certain energy that not everyone has.”

Finally, the last performer of the night was Amber Dawes, with a lovely cover of Glen Hansard’s Falling Slowly. Presenter Louise Cantillon called it “adorable and dreamlike,” a sentiment which Brooke echoed. Brooke called it “so cute,” and said she may prefer Amber’s version over Glen Hansard’s original. Ní Chróinín called the performance a very high standard closer to a high standard show.

Semi-Final Results:

Out of this immensely talented bunch, which young talents were ultimately chosen as the three who will compete in next Sunday’s Grand Final?

The three finalists of Junior Eurovision Éire: From the left, Clare Keeley, Niamh Noade and Sophie Lennon. You can now vote on the TG4 website to decide who will represent Ireland at Junior Eurovision! Image: Newry.ie

Based upon which singers they believed would be most suited for Junior Eurovision, the judges selected:

  • Sophie Lennon
  • Niamh Noade
  • Claire Keeley

All three are members of the Flynn Performing Arts school. Speaking to Newry.ie, Director of the school Fiona Flynn said: “Clare, Niamh and Sophie have been amazing. […] It is a huge achievement for the girls and each is a winner in my eyes!”

Who will represent Ireland? #YOU decide!

For the first time ever, Ireland’s Junior Eurovision representative will be chosen by the public! Voting is now open on the TG4 website — go here to cast your vote for either Sophie Lennon, Niamh Noade or Claire Keeley. You can vote once per day per IP address, so be sure to have your say!

Voting will remain open until late in next Sunday’s Grand Final. The final will air on TG4 at 20:30 GMT on the 23rd of October, and will be livestreamed for all to watch. There is no geo-blocking, so all are welcome to tune in!

Who would #YOU like to see represent Ireland in Junior Eurovision 2022? Will you be casting your vote? Let us know down below in the comments, on social media @ESCUnited, on our Forum, or on our Discord!

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