And then there were three... and an emotional Dayl Cronin should have been one of them but for the curse of the public vote, which once again turned a dance contest into a popularity vote.
The former boyband singer and his partner Ksenia Zsikhotska slipped — literally — out of RTÉ’s Dancing with the Stars last night after a hotly contested semi-final in which the judge’s vote had them third out of the four couples.
That leaves Denise McCormack, Aoibhín Garrihy and Aidan O’Mahony to battle it out in next Sunday’s final.
After months of honing their fitness and skill, last night’s contest, which saw the contestants having to perform two routines each, was certainly of a higher overall quality and was much more tightly fought than in previous weeks.
But when the judges’ scores came in, it seemed that Aidan O’Mahony was lagging.
After his first dance of the night, a jive to “Drive it like you Stole it”, judge Brian Redmond said it seemed like he had stolen someone else’s legs and also commented that he was like a pigeon, because every time his legs moved, his head moved too.
With just 44 points from his two performances, the Kerry footballer was well behind Dayl on 54, Denise on 55, and Aoibhín on the maximum 60 ahead of the public vote.
So it was unsurprising that even Aidan looked shocked and hugely relieved when, after the public vote, much of which must surely have come from Kerry, he sailed straight into the final along with Aoibhín.
That left Dayl and Denise to dance off for the final spot in next week’s showdown.
In his quickstep earlier in the night, Dayl had fallen just at the start of the routine, but quickly picked himself up and continued on, earning praise from the judges for his fighting spirit.
But in the dance-off he managed to forget that slip and complete what (the untrained eye might say) was a faultless routine.
Meanwhile, Denise McCormack repeated her contemporary ballroom routine to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”.
She had earlier completed a Cha Cha Cha which judge Brian Redmond said was “as close as I would ever expect a celebrity to get” to a professional performance of the dance.
Then it was down to the judges to decide whose competition was over.
Both Julian Benson and Loraine Barry said neither of the couples deserved to be there.
Julian gave his vote to Denise and her partner Ryan McShane. Then Brian gave his to Dayl and Ksenia.
That left the deciding vote to Loraine.
When she put Denise through, Dayl’s face crumpled as both his dance partner and his opponents sought to console him.
He composed himself enough to say: “It’s been amazing.
“I want to thank my mam and family and all of my friends, Louis Walsh and Ksenia who was the best dance partner you could imagine.”
Within minutes his twitter account had been flooded with consolation messages from supporters and well-wishers.
“Disappointed best 3 dancers won’t be in #DWTSIrl final. @denisemcactress @CroninDayl @AoibhinGarrihy you were all amazing!” wrote one.
“@DWTSIRL Can’t believe @CroninDayl is out instead of Aidan!! Poor Dayl looked gutted. Sad to see such a great dancer go,” another person commented on Twitter.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved