From early afternoon queues were forming from every corner of the county along the Diamond in Donegal Town in anticipation of one of the most hotly-contested Opportunity Knocks finals in years.
The brainchild of Eamon Gillespie of the Central Hotel, the competition has gone from strength to strength and like a good claret, has definitely matured and improved with age,
Having watched this year’s heats from early this year, there is no doubt we have a wealth of undiscovered talent in the county, ranging in ages from just 10 up to 40 – and what was even more pleasing was to watch how all the different acts bonded together throughout the competition despite the competitive edge and lucrative prize fund of €10,000.
From Loughanure to Belleek , Gorthahork to Ballyshannon, new friendships were formed and without doubt, we will be hearing a lot more from them in the future.
Mickey Joe Harte, a respected songwriter continued to express his admiration for the number of songwriters who had made their way into the finals.
“It proves that there is a lot of hope out there for the creative talent of Donegal” he said.
Brian Ormond, who is due to become a father in less than three weeks, remained cool, calm and collected as his wife Pippa spent a relaxing break in the town.
“They always say “Expect the unexpected in Donegal” and I am not talking about Pippa!
“Year after year I have been coming to Donegal – it is practically my second home! Last year, I was involved up here in both Opportunity Knocks and Celebrity Banisteoir, and what did you guys do – go along and win the All Ireland!
“The whole event has been a great credit to Eamon Gillespie and the staff of both the Abbey and Central Hotel – the whole event has been superbly organised and the hospitality of Donegal continues to shine through.
“Just look at last week, the country endured floods, blizzards and high winds and here we are in Donegal sitting in splendid sunshine if not a little on the nippy side!” he joked.
This year’s winners were Donegal Town’s Shane Gallagher and Kimberly Harris of Rising Colours, followed closely by the spectacular dancers, Michael and Zara from Ballybofey, with Glenties songwriter, Conal Herron an impressive third.
It may sound like a cliche but this year there were no losers – each and every participant proved a winner in one of the closest competitions in years.