A singer from Northern Ireland has said he’s confident he can bring the Eurovision Song Contest home for Ireland.
Ryan Dolan won both the judges’ and the public vote to ensure he will represent Ireland at the 2013 contest in Sweden this May.
Proving that Uncle Hugo is not the only Strabane native that can carry a tune the 27-year-old saw off competition from four other acts.
The opposition included Inchequin, made up of musicians from Maghera, Lurgan and Turkey.
Linda Martin won Eurovision for Ireland in Malmo in 1992 with Why Me? and Ryan is hoping he can do the same this year with Only Love Survives.
“I got into Eurovision in the early 1990s when Ireland was winning all the time,” he said.
“I can’t wait to represent my country. I only started singing in public four years ago and this is the best opportunity I’ve got.
“It makes me feel good when I’m on stage and the adrenaline is pumping.”
Ryan is being mentored by Stuart O’Connor, who choreographed and produced Jedward’s Eurovision performances in 2011 and 2012.
“Ireland has a great singer and an amazing song and on Monday morning we’ll start work on a bigger production,” he said.
Ryan said Jedward’s fans had got behind him to play a bit part in his Eurovision success.
“They have supported me from my very first gig with the twins and they follow me,” he added.
The shy singer also has a host of famous fans, including X Factor judge Louis Walsh and Ulster and Ireland rugby star Tommy Bowe,
Mrs Brown’s Boys actors Paddy Houlihan (Dermot) and Danny O’Carroll (Buster) have also backed his bid for Eurovision glory.
Young fans took to Twitter to share celebratory messages with Ryan, who has 8,500 followers on the social networking site.
“I remember seeing you in 2011 supporting Jedward in Newry and I fell in love with Fall to the Floor,” one wrote.
Ryan will represent Ireland in the first Eurovision semi-final on May 14, with the final taking place on May 18.
The UK has yet to reveal its 2013 contestant and song.
- 1970 All Kinds of Everything: Dana
- 1980 What’s Another Year: Johnny Logan
- 1987 Hold Me Now: Johnny Logan
- 1992 Why Me?: Linda Martin
- 1993 In Your Eyes: Niamh Kavanagh
- 1994 Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids: Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan
- 1996 The Voice: Eimear Quinn