Tuesday 12 December 2017

Gambling resulted in McCarron's life hitting rock bottom

Book review - Alan Aherne

'Out of Control'
'Out of Control'

One of the constant accusations levelled at books relating to G.A.A. players is that they are bland and uninteresting.

So many of them down through the years have followed that set format in join the dots style, all very nice and cosy as we read about the star's love of the game in school and his subsequent rise to the bright lights of Croke Park.

It's all very boring and predictable, so when something completely different comes along it's such a welcome change that publicity is virtually guaranteed even before the book is launched.

That is certainly the case with 'Out Of Control' written by Clare-based journalist Christy O'Connor which looks at the chequered life thus far of Tyrone footballer Cathal McCarron.

At just 28 years of age the subject may be quite young to have his story laid out in such detail, but he's been through a lot and that's putting it mildly.

For those unacquainted with his tale, he is a recovering gambling addict whose need for money to feed his habit saw him sink to a series of lows.

He was hounded out of his homeplace in Dromore on foot of a threat from the IRA after he was caught in the act of stealing from a friend's house.

And while he duly scarpered to London, that was the scene for him to sink even closer to the deepest depths of depravity when he took part in a gay porn film for payment of £3,000 cash.

There's even more to the story because McCarron later met a girl via Tinder who turned out to be only 15 years old, although he swears that he thought she was older.

The fact that he cheated on his current partner in the process merely adds to the sordid nature of the situation, but she has stuck with him and they are now expecting their first child as a couple.

There is a big reveal near the end of the book though when, in making this announcement, McCarron reveals that he is already the father of a girl close to eight years old.

He had split up with the mother before the child was born, and he no longer has access to her as a result of that porn appearance.

What happens on the football field undoubtedly plays second fiddle to his lifestyle off it in this book. However, it is notable that McCarron cannot speak highly enough of long-time Tyrone manager Mickey Harte who has always stuck by him through thick and thin.

Ordinarily a reader would tend to sympathise with someone whose life has been ruined by a gambling addiction. However, I found it hard to have any pity for McCarron as he comes across as quite an aggressive character who finds it hard to accept responsibility for his many mistakes.

At an early stage in the book when he is commenting on his liking for mixed martial arts, he notes that 'there is nobody else to blame, only yourself'.

I found myself returning to that quote afterwards and thinking that it's a pity McCarron didn't apply that same priniciple to his life in general as it seems that there's always someone else for him to point the finger at.

He was gambling-free for three years initially after receiving treatment in Cuan Mhuire before succumbing. And after another extensive bout of therapy, he hasn't placed a bet since 2013.

This book is likely to pick up awards purely because it is so unlike the usual G.A.A. spiel.

However, I didn't find it a particularly engrossing read to be honest despite the obvious shock value.

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