Louis Walsh appeared to take a cheeky swipe at his former girl band

Louis Walsh appeared to throw shade at Girls Aloud with a cheeky dig during Saturday night’s X Factor .

The Irish judge initially managed the chart-topping girl band after they found fame on ‘Popstars: The Rivals’.

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Nadine Coyle, Kimberley Walsh, Nicola Roberts and Sarah Harding eventually parted ways with Louis in 2005.

It appears there may still be some bad blood between them as Louis, 64, made a thinly-veiled dig on Saturday night’s show.

Introducing his act, Four of Diamonds , during Girl Group versus Boy Band week, Louis said: "These are four of the nicest girls I’ve ever worked with."

Girls Aloud parted ways with Louis in 2005

Simon Cowell also appeared to reference Louis’ feud with his former band, introducing Sam Lavery’s version of ‘I’ll Stand By You’, by cheekily saying: "I’m dedicating this one to Louis, it’s a Girls Aloud song."

Even Nicole Scherzinger appeared to take a swipe at Girls Aloud, telling Saara Aalto, who performed ‘Sound of the Underground’: "That song doesn’t really go anywhere vocally. You’re bigger than that song."

Four of Diamonds performed ‘Hold On’ by Wilson Phillips

While Simon accused her of being catty by meowing, Nicole added: "I loved what you did with it but is somebody singing a Pussycat Dolls song next?!"

Meanwhile, following Four of Diamonds’ performance of Wilson Phillips’ ‘Hold On’, which was well received by the judges, Louis commented on their close friendship.

He said: "They’re genuinely great friends – that’s what makes them different from all the other groups out there."

However, Simon – whose roster of Syco acts includes groups such as Little Mix and One Direction – did not look too pleased at the remark.

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Earlier in the night, Matt Terry’s version of Wham’s ‘I’m Your Man’ received a mixed reaction from the judges but there was a positive note when Simon compared him to ‘ X Factor ‘ breakout star Olly Murs.

And Five After Midnight closed the show with their own version of The Spice Girls’ ‘Say You’ll Be There’.

The trio received a standing ovation from the judges, with Nicole calling their performance a "game changer".

She added: "You took a Spice Girls song and made it sound like Stevie Wonder. I am blown away."

Sharon Osbourne added: "Everything was right tonight, it was the perfect balance of singing and dancing. It was just right."

Simon said: "When I heard you were going to be doing that song, I thought ‘Oh my God’, but that was incredible. Tonight everything felt like it was coming from you and it felt real. This is so impressive Congratulations Louis."

Their mentor Louis said: "They made the Spice Girls cool, it was absolutely amazing."