The final was held at the studios of broadcaster RTÉ in Dublin, hosted by Gay Byrne. Eight songs took part, with the winner chosen by voting from eight regional juries. Contestants included 1981 Irish representatives Sheeba, and Charlie McGettigan, who would go on to win Eurovision ten years down the line.
On the night of the final Martin performed 9th in the running order, following Belgium and preceding Denmark. Pre-contest, "Terminal 3" had been rated as one of the front runners in a field with no obvious stand-out song, and Martin gave a vocally strong and visually striking performance. The early voting was very close, with the lead changing hands regularly between Ireland, Denmark and Spain. However from the half-way point, to the surprise of most observers, the unrated song from Sweden pulled away from the rest to claim victory with 145 points, with Ireland eventually finishing in second place with 137 points. "Terminal 3" received four maximum 12s – from Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland – with only Yugoslavia failing to award it any points at all. The Irish jury awarded its 12 points to Sweden.