Northern Ireland news

Sports writer questions public ‘contempt' of Tyrone GAA's Cathal McCarron

Tyrone footballer Cathal McCarron speaking to Adrian Logan at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast last week about his new book. Picture by Declan Roughan
Brendan Hughes

AN AWARD-winning sports writer has questioned the "contempt" shown towards Tyrone footballer Cathal McCarron after speaking of his gambling addiction.

Paul Kimmage said people by comparison had "compassion" for Paul McGrath when the former Ireland soccer star opened up about his problems with alcohol.

He questioned a lack of "empathy" for McCarron, who last month released a tell-all autobiography about his struggles with gambling – including how he once appeared in gay pornography for cash to feed his addiction.

Controversy surrounding the book saw a scheduled appearance on RTÉ's Late Late Show cancelled.

The father of a 15-year-old girl McCarron met through mobile dating app Tinder had voiced anger about the planned interview.

The 29-year-old Dromore man was questioned by gardaí about meeting with the teenager last year. He said in his book that he did not realise she was underage and the Director of Public Prosecutions later decided not to pursue the matter.

McCarron also pulled out of an appearance on BBC's Nolan Live television show due to illness, and a scheduled book launch party in Dublin was called off.

Writing in the Sunday Independent, Mr Kimmage questioned the treatment of McCarron compared to McGrath, who released his own candid autobiography a decade ago.

He said: "Do we feel contempt for Paul McGrath? No, we feel compassion. Have we held Paul McGrath to account? No, we understand. So I'm obviously missing something here: Where's the empathy for Cathal McCarron?"

Mr Kimmage, whose own 1990 autobiography Rough Ride controversially lifted the lid on drug-taking in professional cycling, described McCarron's story as "compelling" although "not an easy read".

"McCarron cheats on the women who love him, steals from his parents and betrays his friends. But you have to cheer for a man who finds himself in the darkest place imaginable and finds the courage and strength to fight back again," he said.

"And is he really that different to McGrath? Okay, so he will never reach the heights of Giants Stadium, or be celebrated as an all-time great, but think about what it took for him to play for Tyrone again.

"They have both been afflicted by a terrible thing, and will fight that thing to the grave."

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