Northern Ireland news

Photo capturing Newry schoolboy's determination goes viral

Ten-year-old Newry St John Bosco player Cathair McCaul tackles Ballyholland Harps' star captain James O'Hanlon during last week's South Down U-13 division one championship final.
Ryan McAleer

THE mother of a Newry primary school pupil has spoken of her surprise after his photo went viral on social media.

The image of 10-year-old Cathair McCaul playing for the Newry St John Bosco club has been viewed tens of thousands of times since the weekend. Kerry GAA legend Paul Galvin is among the high profile personalities to share it.

The P7 pupil was drafted into the club’s U-13 team to help make up the numbers for the South Down division one under-13 championship final against Newry rivals Ballyholland Harps.

The photo, taken by photographer Maurice McKey, captured the determined 10-year-old corner back tackling Ballyholland’s star captain James O’Hanlon.

Despite losing the final, Cathair’s mum Laura said the family had been delighted by the response.

“I can’t believe it. We didn’t have a full team this year, so we had to take a few from the under-11s.

“The wee man didn’t give up. That just wasn’t a one-off moment, he played like that the whole game.”

The young Newry player comes from a strong GAA pedigree. His father David was a Hogan Cup winner with St Colman’s College, while his late grandmother’s first cousin Brendan Sloan won an All-Ireland medal with Down in 1968.

Down’s All-Ireland winning captain DJ Kane is also a family relative.

While Cathair doesn’t have a phone, Laura said the family have been keeping him updated on the response to the photo.

“Cathair’s a very quiet child, he wouldn’t really crave the limelight. But I think judging by the reaction, Irish people just love an underdog.”

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