ANDREA Begley beat off bookies favourite Leah McFall to win the final of BBC One’s The Voice sing-off contest.
In a stunning performance, the partially-sighted 27-year-old from Pomeroy, County Tyrone won a “lucrative” recording contract.
Her win stunned her Glengormley rival Leah and her mentor Will.i.am.
But no one was more shocked than Andrea’s mum who sat in the audience aghast that her daughter had beat off the favourite to crowned the winner of The Voice by the public.
Andrea told supporters: “I will try my best to put your vote to good use”. Her mentor, Danny O’Donoghue, described her as “an inspiration”.
Leah McFall had been the bookmakers’ favourite, but failed to win enough votes with her renditions of Loving You and and I Will Always Love You.
Immediately after the result was announced, Begley said she “never, ever, ever could have imagined” winning the contest.
She added: “I have to thank everyone at home for voting for me.”
McFall’s mentor Will.i.am took to Twitter to express his shock that she did not win.
He called it “unexplainable” and said he was “so sad” and “perplexed”.
But he quickly followed it with praise for the winner.
“Andrea is amazing…#dontGETmeWRONG…but we know who has the incredible #voice,” he said.
Begley had chosen to sing My Immortal by Evanescence, before joining O’Donoghue’s band The Script to perform Hall Of Fame, and then singing Angel by Sarah McLachlan in the final round.
O’Donoghue, an Irish singer-songwriter, told the audience how proud he was of his mentee.
Danny O’Donoghue and Andrea Begley Begley received warm congratulations for her mentor, O’Donoghue
“It just proves that a great, great singer with a great song, you can knock down walls, you can smash down anything they put in front of you,” he said.
Turning to Begley, he added: “You’re an inspiration to me. I’ve learned more from you than you have from me.”
On Saturday evening, each artist performed two songs live on BBC 1, one of which was a duet with their coach.
The act with the lowest number of votes was Birmingham singer Matt Henry, who was the first to leave the final despite a spirited duet rendition of Never Too Much by Luther Vandross with his mentor Jessie J, and an elaborately choreographed solo performance of David Gray’s Babylon.
The remaining three contenders, Begley, Belfast’s McFall and Mike Ward, from Salford, then performed their favourite song from this series.
McFall won plaudits from the four coaches for her performance of Minnie Riperton’s Lovin’ You, known for its forays into the top end of the vocal register.
Sir Tom Jones declared: “It’s amazing. Her control is fantastic, the whole thing, all the way through it was really, really great.”
Ward said the opportunity to perform with his coach, Sir Tom, was “incredible – he’s one of the reasons I got into country music”.
But his rendition of Don’t Close Your Eyes by Keith Whitely came under fire from McFall’s coach Will.i.am, who said: “I thought there were some parts that were flat.”
In the subsequent round of voting, Begley won more votes than her rivals and took the title.
The evening’s entertainment had kicked off with a lively collaboration between all four coaches on Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, in which Will.i.am wielded a keytar.
There were also cameo performances from Robbie Williams, Dizzee Rascal and Michael Bublé.