Welcome to our final recap of Junior Eurovision Éire, Ireland’s selection show for Junior Eurovision. Last night, the show reached its conclusion, and picked Ireland’s representative for Junior Eurovision 2022!

Ireland will be represented by the incredible Sophie Lennon, who narrowly missed out on doing so in 2021.

Firstly, let’s look at how the Grand Final played out, and then learn some more about Ireland’s chosen artist for Junior Eurovision 2022!

Grand Final Recap:

Each week, Junior Eurovision Éire’s two permanent judges (Niamh Ní Chróinín and Chris Greene) were joined by a guest judge from Irish Eurovision history, and the Final was no different. Our final guest judge was Brian Kennedy, who represented Ireland in 2006 with Every Song is a Cry for Love. His performance netted Ireland a 10th place result in 2006’s Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final. When asked about returning as a guest judge for Junior Eurovision Éire, Kennedy said that he was “very heartened by the level that we’re at,” and that he was excited to bear witness to “incredible” new talent.

The tremendous trio of finalists were Clare Keeley, Sophie Lennon, and Niamh Noade. Each contestant sang twice in the Final, before — for the first time in the show’s history — a public vote was tallied up to decide the winner.

The wonderful three finalists! From left, Clare Keeley, Niamh Noade, and Sophie Lennon. Image: TG4

Up first was Clare Keeley, who performed a wonderful cover of Circle of Life by Elton John. Greene pointed out her fantastic confidence, noting that she had great stage presence and no nerves. Ní Chróinín said that she was left smiling throughout the performance. Kennedy also praised Clare, calling the performance “incredibly strong” and an amazing start to the show.

Next up was Sophie Lennon, whose first song of the night was Leave a Light On by Tom Walker. You can check the performance out below:

 

“You’re almost so good, we’re not registering it,” Greene uttered, proclaiming that the judges were all now accustomed to her delivering flawless performances every time. Ní Chróinín named Sophie “one of the best young singers in Europe.” Kennedy complimented her “extraordinary” control over her voice, denoting it overall as a fantastic performance.

Niamh Noade was up next, with an enchanting version of Bastille’s Pompeii. Kennedy aptly referred to Niamh’s version as “mythical,” as her beautiful harp-playing added a layer of mystique to the song. Greene agreed, saying that it was “like a dream,” and Ní Chróinín held that she vastly preferred Niamh’s cover to Bastille’s original. Both Kennedy and Greene also appreciated how tremendously difficult it is to sing and to play an instrument at the same time, a challenge Niamh rose to with aplomb.

After a quick commercial break, it was then time for the three finalists to perform one more song. For this, they each had to select a past Irish Eurovision classic!

Clare once again kicked things off, this time with Johnny Logan’s 1987 winner Hold Me Now. Clare delivered yet another fabulous performance — as Ní Chróinín put it, it was “unbelievable, like being at a concert.” Greene put it as being like listening to a “small Johnny Logan in a dress.” Kennedy, meanwhile, was speechless, and simply quoted Logan’s song: “What do you say when words are not enough?”

Sophie’s Eurovision ballad of choice was Linda Martin’s winning song from 1992, Why Me?. Again, Sophie utterly stunned the judges, and viewers at home. Check it out!

“Why not you” as Ireland’s Junior Eurovision representative, Kennedy asked. Ní Chróinín concurred, gushing, “Why you? Because you are amazing.” Greene also firmly gave his stamp of approval, saying that he felt that Sophie’s rendition was better than Linda Martin’s in 1992.

Finally, Niamh treated everyone watching to an absolutely gorgeous cover of Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan’s 1994 winner Rock and Roll Kids. Kennedy remarked that he was hanging on every word Niamh sang, calling it “yet another beautiful performance.” Greene declared that he would never be able to turn his radio off if Niamh’s cover was playing. Ní Chróinín said that she was proud of Niamh and her wonderful talent.

Results:

As we waited for the final result, we got to see a brief clip of last year’s Irish Junior Eurovision artist, the fantastic Maiú Levi-Lawlor. Maiú called the Junior Eurovision experience “great,” and advised this year’s representative to “enjoy every second of it.”

Maiú Levi-Lawlor performed for Ireland at Junior Eurovision 2021. Image: EBU

All three finalists this year were absolutely incredible, and should be tremendously proud of themselves! As the judges put it, they have hugely exciting futures.

With the public votes all counted up, Sophie Lennon was named the victor of Junior Eurovision Éire 2022!

Sophie is a gargantuan talent, with a number of achievements to her name. Speaking to Belfast Live, Sophie’s mother Theresa noted that Sophie won a singing competition in school, which lead to her singing O Holy Night in a video for her grandfather. From there, Sophie’s video went viral — leading her to become signed by a London-based talent agency, winning the BBC School Soloist of the Year, and even landing onto London’s West End!

Sophie has appeared in the West End production of ‘Children of Eden,’ and next year she will take on the lead role of a new musical, ‘Marine and the Kaleidoscope.’

A song will now be specially composed for Sophie to perform at Junior Eurovision in Yerevan, Armenia, on the 11th of December. Congratulations, Sophie!

Did #YOU watch the Grand Final of Junior Eurovision Éire 2022? What kind of song do you hope Sophie Lennon will sing for Ireland later this year? Let us know down below in the comments, on social media @ESCUnited, on our Forum, or on our Discord!

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