Troubled former Tyrone player Cathal McCarron needs our support, says GAA legend Oisin McConville who beat addiction to gambling
GAA legend Oisin McConville says troubled former Tyrone player Cathal McCarron needs support and understanding amidst the fallout from his appearance in a gay sex video.
The All-Ireland winning Armagh footballer said he understood the "anguish, heartache and torturous soul-searching" the 26-year-old dad-of-one – who has a serious gambling addiction – was going through.
In the past McConville amassed huge gambling debts but emerged from that period of life to become an addiction counsellor.
Writing in Sunday Life about the support McCarron can expect from the GAA family, he said: "It may have its faults and shortcomings but the association is rarely found wanting when moral support is required – and that's something that McCarron now requires in spades if he is to regain and semblance of a normal, conventional lifestyle.
"This, I firmly believe, is entirely possible, but only if he is given time and space in which to find himself again," he said.
It was last week when graphic online images emerged of McCarron engaging in sexual activity with a man on an internet clip entitle 'Masculine straight Irishman's first gay sex video'. He was then subjected to a torrent of hate-filled and homophobic online abuse.
The young sportsman was forced to close his Twitter account and has not been seen in public since. Recently McCarron has been playing for the London GAA side following a move there to help tackle his gambling demons.
But it has now been reported that since the sex scandal erupted he has returned from London to Co Down to be close to family and friends and undergo counselling.
McConville urged support and understanding for McCarron. He noted how heartening it was to learn that lately the GAA at all levels was "chipping in with guidance and support" when individuals find themselves unable to cope with major personal problems.
McConville also said sport tended to reflect the range of issues faced by society and while it was easy to make fun of someone who was struggling psychologically, it was worth remembering "there but for the grace of God go any one of us".
"It is my earnest hope that McCarron, a flint-hard defender who has never been known to flinch from a challenge on the field of play at club or county level, is now given the necessary tools to cope with the biggest personal test in his life to date," he added.
Former All-Ireland winner Joe Brolly has also offered his support, adding it was "time for Gaels to rally round".
Cathal McCarron (26) was one of Tyrone's standout performers last year.
The corner-back lined out for Mickey Harte's side in their All-Ireland semi-final defeat by Mayo.
He hit the headlines last October when details of his chronic gambling addiction became public.
He moved to London to make a fresh start.