Northern Ireland news

BBC presenter John Toal 'almost lost his voice' from shouting encouragement at son during Ulster under-20 GAA final

BBC Radio Ulster presenter John Toal

POPULAR BBC Radio Ulster presenter John Toal has joked that he almost lost his voice from shouting encouragement at his son during the Ulster under-20 GAA final.

Mr Toal apologised for his husky voice during his radio show on Saturday morning, hours after Down beat Monaghan to win the Ulster title.

He said it had been nerve-wracking to watch his son Lorcan play for Down in a key GAA final.

"I was at the Ulster under-20 GAA final last night in Armagh (between) Down and Monaghan. Skin in the game, as they say," he told listeners.

"As it got to half-time I realised my voice was going - too much shouting and too much roaring.

"Epic match - it went to extra time."

Mr Toal said it was a "huge occasion" and "very emotional" following the tragic death of the Monaghan captain Brendan Óg Duffy.

The 19-year-old died in a car crash as he travelled back from his county's Ulster semi-final win over Donegal last month.

Mr Toal said he was impressed by how the young men conducted themselves on Friday night.

"I have to congratulate all involved and the Down boys in particular on their persistence, their tenacity, their moments of brilliance in the match and also their mature and measured celebration of victory on a night when I think everybody was all too aware that life is ultimately more important than any sport," he said.

"But as a parent and a supporter it's amazing to see Down bring an Ulster title back to the county for the first time since 2009.

"Good luck to them in their all-Ireland semi-final next week."

He added: "The voice may be gone but a whole new generation of red and black is back."

Down will now face Roscommon in the All-Ireland semi-final.

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