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Tyrone GAA's Cathal McCarron: I gambled gay porn cash in just two days

Brendan Hughes
14 October, 2016 01:00

TYRONE GAA star Cathal McCarron has broken his silence on how he appeared in gay pornography to feed a gambling addiction after fleeing Ireland under threat from the IRA.

The 28-year-old from Dromore has spent years battling gambling problems, with two prolonged spells in rehab and regular Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

He has made significant strides in his recovery, returning to the Tyrone senior team and receiving a second Allstar nomination this year.

But in an autobiography to be released next week, McCarron describes how he took part in a gay sex video in London to feed his "destructive habit".

"The company was based in a fancy office block in north London and looked like a legit model agency. It didn't take me long to discover it was something more," he said.He tells how he had responded to a newspaper advert looking for 'male models'.

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"They were a porn company. They enquired if I'd be interested in some work.

"The money was an obvious appeal, but the risk was still too great. They sold it to me on the basis that they only dealt with US hotels, where the porn was exclusive to the hotels' pay-per-view channels.

"Anyone in their right mind knows that uploaded material can appear anywhere, but I wasn't in my right mind. I accepted the offer of some work."

McCarron said he received an initial £200 to be filmed urinating.

He assumed he would appear in pornography with women, and was initially against taking part in gay pornography. However, he eventually agreed when he was offered £3,000 in cash.

He described his gambling addiction as "so destructive" that he would "descend into a dysfunctional world".

"The only reality guiding me at the time was the desperation to feed my gambling habit," he said.

"As we had sexual intercourse, I did everything to suppress my real emotions, to dislocate myself from the moment. All I was thinking about was the money I was going to receive afterwards.

"When the filming was over I felt physically sick, disgusted that I had allowed myself to sink into such an abyss of degradation and humiliation.

"As soon as I was handed a brown envelope with £3,000, that feeling began to dissipate. I walked across the road into a betting office and gambled away half of my earnings."

By 7.30pm the following day most of the money had been spent.

When the footage became public and made newspaper headlines, McCarron said he considered suicide or travelling to Mexico.

"I had sold my body. I had blackened my soul. All for just two days gambling," he said.

McCarron tells in the book how he became hooked on gambling in his teens and would sneak out of classes at school to place bets.

"By the time I was 18, gambling had infiltrated every part of my being," he said.

"I never had any problem stealing money to feed my gambling addiction. Before I was 21 I had blown around £200,000, most of which I had stolen, the vast majority from my own father."

He described how his mother was forced to call in the fraud squad after he applied for and used credit cards in her name.

And in one elaborate scam he went door-to-door asking neighbours for sponsor money for a skydive for a fake cancer charity.

"As my gambling addiction became more corrosive, so did my worth as a person. I had no respect for anyone. I was a conniving, sneaking bastard," he said.

"I stood for the complete opposite of the majority of principles we espoused as a footballing team in Tyrone."

Following intervention from concerned friends, McCarron tried to address his addiction by meeting with ex-Armagh GAA footballer Oisin McConville, who has tackled his own gambling problems.

Aged just 20 at the time, McCarron was soon admitted to Cuan Mhuire in Coolarne, Co Galway, and spent Christmas 2009 in rehab.

When he left the footballer attended regular Gamblers Anonymous meetings, but in the years that followed he began to relapse.

In 2013 he was caught trying to steal money from a friend's house, a story that soon circulated and made the front page of a Sunday newspaper.

Soon afterwards McCarron said he received a threat from a man on behalf of the IRA over his activities.

"This wasn't just advice. He was carrying a threat from the IRA. He told me that if I didn't leave, I'd be shot. He said they were coming to the house that night to carry out their threat and shoot me," he said.

"At that stage, I wasn't sure if I had much longer left to live. I was still in tears when I got home."

He added: "I had gone too far. I'd crossed too many lines. I was forced to leave Tyrone."

He moved to London but his gambling problem intensified, at one stage blowing £68,000 in three days.

McCarron returned to Ireland and Cuan Mhuire for further rehabilitation after the porn footage emerged.

Since then he has continued addressing his addiction and made a successful return to the football field in the Tyrone senior team.

However, McCarron described how his addiction has had a devastating impact on many of his personal relationships, including losing contact with his daughter.

"My daughter will be eight in November. I haven't seen her in four years. I cannot even remember the last time I saw her. The saddest thing of all is that she could walk past me in the street and I wouldn't recognise her," he said.

"I wasn't there for my daughter's birth. I don't even know where I was, probably in some dark and drab corner of a betting office."

Before his relapse McCarron had some contact with his daughter, but recalls how she called him 'Cathal'.

"That used to sting me. I would have liked her to call me daddy," he said.

"I was more like a close friend who called to see her every so often. That wasn't enough for her to consider me her daddy. It was a name that meant nothing to her."

He said he would "give anything to see her now" and hopes some day he will be able to rekindle their relationship.

McCarron now has a new girlfriend and they are expecting a child together.

He is also studying to be a counsellor in a bid to help others and hopes to have his own practice some day.

"Pursuing that path is something I aspire to, but becoming so involved in counselling is as much to help me as anybody else. It keeps me right. It keeps me in the loop," he said.

"Most of all though, I just want to live a normal life."

:: Cathal McCarron's autobiography Out of Control: How My Addiction Almost Killed Me and My Road to Redemption, written with former Clare hurling goalkeeper Christy O'Connor, is released on October 20 through publishing house Simon & Schuster

14 October, 2016 01:00 News

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