"I'd have hit him a lot harder" - Cathal McCarron reveals amazing clash with Derry manager
It's hard to put this book down.
Christy O'Connor is a trustworthy penman and Cathal McCarron has a powerful story to tell. It's a concoction of pure, gripping intrigue.
The Tyrone defender's new book, Out of Control, has hit the shelves and it is proving to be a rollercoaster of emotions. McCarron has had experiences unlike most GAA men and he has a willingness to speak openly and honestly even more unlike most GAA men. Everything he's felt, everything he's thought, he has poured it into the autobiography.
So when he's talking about something like hitting a Derry manager, he doesn't hold back on that either.
Back in January, Tyrone and their fiercest rivals met in the McKenna Cup final in a game that would eventually go the whole way to extra time. They had already played in the competition, they would play each other again in the league and a championship opener at Celtic Park was on the horizon.
Bad blood was in the air and the sight of Damian Barton running on to the field got the better of him.
"There were five minutes remaining when Gareth McKinless wrote off Ronan McNamee with a sliding tackle. McNamee got up and banged into McKinless’ upper chest with two closed fists. There was force behind McNamee’s reaction, but the Derry boy hit the ground like he’d been smashed with a sledgehammer," McCarron says in his book.
"Niall Morgan charged from his goal in frustration at McKinless’ actions and started pulling him up off the ground. As soon as I arrived on the scene, I put my left hand out as a loose cordon to prevent other players, including our own, igniting a potential melee. That peacemaking approach lasted about a second. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the Derry manager Damian Barton coming across, plumes of smoke billowing from his ears.
"I made a go for him. I don’t know how I connected with Barton but I did. Whatever it was – a dunt, a half-box, a slap – I nailed him. As soon as Barton hit the deck, a fullscale brawl kicked off. I did some clipping in the scrap, but it was more wrestling than anything else. I don’t know if it was for boxing Derry fellas or for nailing Barton but the referee showed me a straight red card.
"I was bulling because I thought that was me gone for the following weekend’s opening league game against Cavan. I found out afterwards that the suspension only kicked in for the following year’s McKenna Cup. If I’d known that at the time, I’d have hit Barton a lot harder."
That's the very start of the second chapter...
Enjoy this one, folks.
Colm Parkinson chats to Kerry GAA legend, and author, Kieran Donaghy in a special edition of The GAA Hour. Listen below or subscribe on iTunes