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All eyes will be on The Voice on RTE 1 on Sunday night as the North Cork region is set to dominate The Voice of Ireland final this weekend with no less than three of the four finalists from the area. All three, Kelly McDonagh Mongan from Fermoy, Shannon Murphy from Castletownroche and Keith Hanley from Charleville, staved off stiff competition on last Sunday night's live show to win a coveted place in the final which will be broadcast live from The Helix in Dublin.
As Sunday night approaches, much of the focus will be on Kelly whose baby's due date was Tuesday of this week. Kelly is hoping her baby will wait until the final is done and dusted before making its appearance.
In reaching the final, each of the three showed they have a huge groundswell of support from the region. None of them are being complacent though and all are urging people to do what is most importatnt and that is to vote for them this Sunday night. The fourth contestant, Shane McLaughlin from Donegal, is also enjoying popular support from his county.
At the time of going to press Paddy Power Bookmakers were giving odds of 4/6 on Kelly to win, 3/1 on Shannon and 4/1 on Keith. Shane's odds were put at 8/1.
On Monday and Tuesday, Kelly, Shannon and Keith were visited in their home places by their mentors, Kian Egan, Bressie and Jamelia. The three mentors were introduced to families of the contestants and taken on a tour of their native places, which was filmed for inclusion in Sunday night's programme.
All three will be back up in Dublin on Friday for rehearsals of the songs chosen for them to sing for the final. Saturday is the all important run-through of Sunday's show, while Sunday will also be a day of rehearsals before the show is broadcast to the nation.
The question on everyone's lips is: Will Kelly have her baby between now and Sunday night's final? Her due date was Tuesday of this week. With many first-time pregnancies going up to two weeks overdue, Kelly is likely to be hoping her baby does just that, allowing her to compete on Sunday. Otherwise she could be ruled out of the show as she's revealed that the producers would need her to be passed by a doctor as being fit to return to compete if she does give birth.
"It's all about the baby, that's all that matters," her coach, Kian Egan, told this reporter when the Avondhu caught up with him in Fermoy on Monday. "Having a baby is a big thing in your life and when it happens it's the best thing in your life," he commented. He said Kelly's condition is a "huge risk" for her in whether or not she'll get to compete in the final, as he revealed that paramedics have been present at the live shows in recent weeks making sure she's ok. "A big couch was brought backstage for her on Sunday night," he said. He laughed off suggestions that he could be godfather to the new baby.
Kian said it was lovely to be able to come down to see where Kelly is from and meet her family. The Westlife star met up with Kelly on the quayside in Fermoy and happily posed with her for photographs for young fans. He and Kelly also spent time signing autographs before Kelly took Kian on a tour of the town, ending with a visit to her home on the Duntaheen Road where she introduced him to members of her extended family, friends and supporters.
Kian said he'd had a fair bit of input at rehearsals all through the show for Kelly and Shane, whom he's also mentoring. "If I thought something wasn't right I said so," he told The Avondhu. "It's all about song choices. Katy Anna went out on Sunday night, she didn't deserve to and it was all down to song choice," he said, adding: "I don't see any point in being dishonest. It's not about me. I've had my peak in my career. I don't want to say what people want to hear. I want what's best for my acts."
Asked what it would mean for him to be the winning mentor this year, he said Bressie had been blagging about that. "But it's not about me. I've no interest in being a winner. I'm more interested in those I mentor being winners," he said. "But he's the best coach," Kelly piped in.
Kelly said this week that she is in good form and that the excitement of being in the final is keeping her going. She revealed that she's had no real food cravings during her pregnancy but said the smell of certain foods would tempt her to want them. She thanked everyone who has supported her so far and asked that they stick with her and vote for her on Sunday night.
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