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Seven things we learned about Cathal McCarron from his new book

Tyrone GAA footballer Cathal McCarron. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Brendan Hughes

TYRONE GAA footballer Cathal McCarron has released his autobiography called 'Out of Control: How My Addiction Almost Killed Me and My Road to Redemption'.

In the candid book he breaks his silence about his struggles over the years with an addiction to gambling.

He reveals how his gambling struggles even led to him appearing in gay pornography for cash to feed his addiction.

The publishers have described it as a "sports story unlike any other, a tale of success, lies, deceit, theft, recovery, rehabilitation and ultimately, redemption".

Here's a rundown of the biggest revelations from a book that has been the talk of the GAA community.

 

1. Cathal McCarron was paid £3,000 in cash to appear in online gay pornography – and immediately gambled half of it away

McCarron 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 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."

 

2. He fled to London after being told he would be shot by the IRA

In 2013 McCarron 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.

The footballer said he soon afterwards 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."

 

3. He concocted a fake cancer charity skydive to swindle his neighbours

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.

"Before I was 21 I had blown around £200,000, most of which I had stolen, the vast majority from my own father."

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," he said.

 

4. Mickey Harte gave him his All-Ireland medal while he was in rehab

McCarron was admitted in 2009 to rehabilitation centre Cuan Mhuire in Coolarne, Co Galway.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte visited and gave McCarron his All-Ireland medal from Tyrone's 2008 victory, as the Dromore man did not attend the winners' banquet due to his gambling problems.

"Cuan Mhuire didn't allow visitors midweek, but they weren't going to turn Mickey Harte away," he said.

"We spoke about life, about my recovery, about how Mickey wanted to play a part in that recovery. He knew football was my life."

 

5. He's still regularly approached online by gay men two years after his porn film

McCarron's involvement in gay pornography first emerged in 2014.

"Some people will continue to form the same opinion of you. A lot of them still think I'm gay," he said.

"Every day I still get online approaches, or some form of social media connectivity, from the gay community. It's embarrassing when some man asks to meet you, but I don't look on that as a negative.

"Some gay men seem to look upon me as a kind of gay icon. That's how I was tagged on some LGBT community websites and discussion boards.

"When the video went viral, some of those forums were laced with comments from gay men about how much they wanted to have sex with me.

"The last thing I am is gay, but I'll take those comments above vile, vitriolic, homophobic and personal abuse any day of the week.

"I completely respect the lesbian and gay community, because I really appreciated their messages of support when so many others wanted to bury me."

 

6. He was questioned by gardaí after arranging to meet a 15-year-old through Tinder

McCarron met the girl last year despite being in a relationship with his current girlfriend, who is now pregnant with their child.

The footballer said he thought the girl was at least 19 and only realised her true age when contacted by her father.

"The girl said she drove an old-style Jaguar. She sent me a picture of the car. It was harmless online chat," he said.

However, McCarron said he "started shaking with fear" when he later received a phone call from the girl's father.

The 28-year-old was questioned by gardaí and a file was passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

He described the relief as "overpowering" when he was told in July that the DPP would not be pursuing the matter as there was 'no case to answer'.

 

7. His addiction troubles led to him losing contact with his seven-year-old daughter

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

However, he 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.

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

 

:: Cathal McCarron's autobiography Out of Control: How My Addiction Almost Killed Me and My Road to Redemption, written with Irish News columnist Christy O'Connor, is available through publishing house Simon & Schuster

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