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Ireland misses out on place in Eurovision grand final

Ireland's Sarah McTernan during Eurovision rehearsals in Tel Aviv, Israel
Brendan Hughes

IRELAND has missed out on a place in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Singer Sarah McTernan (25), from Co Clare, represented the nation last night in the second semi-final with pop song '22'.

But competing against 17 other countries, the former Voice of Ireland contestant was unable to secure a top-10 placing to advance to Saturday's grand final.

Despite holding the record for the most Eurovision wins with seven victories, Ireland has only qualified twice for the final in the past seven years.

Ryan O'Shaughnessy came 16th in the final last year with his ballad Together, while in 2013 Co Tyrone singer Ryan Dolan came last in the final with just five points.

This year's contest has been overshadowed by calls for a boycott due to it being held in Israel.

RTÉ and the BBC have been urged by musicians and human rights campaigners to pull out in protest over Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Both broadcasters have defended their participation, saying that Eurovision is a non-political event.

Earlier this week it emerged Queen's University Belfast Students' Union has cancelled a planned screening in its bar of the Eurovision final.

The cancellation is believed to be linked to the boycott campaign, but the union has refused to comment.

The UK will be represented in the final in Tel Aviv by 21-year-old singer Michael Rice with the power ballad Bigger than Us.

As one of the so-called 'big five' that give the most funding to the contest, the UK gets an automatic pass to the final.

This year is the 64th edition of the annual contest, with 41 countries taking part.

Among the bookies' favourites to win the 2019 show are the Netherlands and Sweden.

If Brexit happens, the UK will still be able to compete in Eurovision because the BBC is part of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) which organises the contest, and EU membership is not required.

For many years Eurovision's entrants have extended far beyond Europe's boundaries, with even Australia now annually competing.

Earlier this week, the EBU announced plans to develop the Eurovision format for the US, aiming to have an 'American Song Contest' ready to air in 2021.

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