Winning Dancing With The Stars would be 'bittersweet,' says Cliona Hagan
Star vies for glitterball glory
Country singing sensation Cliona Hagan has admitted that even if she wins the coveted Glitterball Trophy in tonight's Dancing With The Stars final, the victory would be "bittersweet".
The 29-year-old Co Tyrone star, who is the show's first Northern Ireland contestant, won her place in the final after wowing the judges on the RTE show with her beautiful ballroom and sexy Latin routines over the past 12 weeks.
And in the final showdown, Cliona and her professional partner Robert Rowinski will take to the dancefloor in the hope their fancy footwork will see off their rivals - Love/Death actor Johnny Ward and Emily Barker; presenter Mairead Ronan and John Nolan; and comic Fred Cooke and pro partner Giulia Dotta.
During the show's run, Cliona was tipped as the one who was giving hot favourite Johnny a run for his money. But she shrugged off the comments, adding: "It's lovely that people are saying that about me but I am just concentrating on improving - I'm competing against myself to be better."
The country singer was also the first contestant of this series to score a 10 in the show, during switch-up week when she swapped her usual dance partner for another of the show's pros Vitali Kozmin, with a Shakira-inspired Samba.
Despite her winning moves, Cliona is overwhelmed to be in the final. "I'm still trying to process it, I'm shocked and so happy. I'm over the moon and delighted. I'm privileged to be in the final," she said.
"Not for one second did I ever think I'd get this far. I never thought I'd be able to do the dances."
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Before swapping her cowboy boots for dance shoes, Cliona didn't rate her chances in the ballroom.
"My sisters were brilliant at Irish dancing and won medals. I went to one class and told my mum that I didn't want to go back."
But Cliona found her rhythm at Dancing With The Stars, often practising steps and routines with her pro partner for 12 hours a day.
No matter what happens in the final, there is one thing Cliona is sure about.
"I will miss this big time. I can't believe it's week 12 and I will miss the people so much - everyone from the contestants to the hairdressers and make-up artists. It will be hard not seeing all those people on a Sunday - it is going to be bittersweet."
Cliona says the biggest lesson about the experience was the sheer variety of dances. "The hardest part was trying to distinguish between all the dances. I never realised how mentally exhausting it was going to be having to learn the routines every week day-in, day-out.
"I knew nothing about dance because I had never done any. I had never been able to dance. When it came to Latin I had heard of a Salsa but that's about all. Dancing is physically hard but it's also mentally challenging too."
So, does Cliona think she will win tonight's final. "I don't know about that," she said.
"Mairead and Johnny are so good. I'm just going to give it everything and concentrate on my steps. I will give 100% to my dances.
"I'm nervous, but it's a mix of nerves and excitement as there are quite a few dances to do. I don't want to put too much stress on myself. I will do my best - the rest is in God's hands."
Whether she wins the Glitterball Trophy or not, Cliona says she will be hitting the road again with a new band and new songs. "I can't wait to get back into the country music scene with new music."
Meanwhile, she spoke of her heartbreak for the families of three teenagers, Lauren Bullock (17), Morgan Barnard, also 17, and Connor Currie (16), all from her native Co Tyrone, who lost their lives in the tragic events at Cookstown on St Patrick's Day.
She says: "It is just devastating for them, their friends and families. My heart goes out to them - those poor kids - it's just awful."
Cliona says she went to discos at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown in her teens. "It would've been a hotspot when I was younger. We all went there. It's just so tragic what happened. It's very, very sad."
- Dancing With The Stars final is on RTE tonight at 6.30pm.
- Cliona will be supporting Nathan Carter at his shows in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on March 29 and 30.