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Organized gambling a greater threat to professional sport than doping

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Gillespie was back in Belfast on Monday to launch his book in the local Easons – and another current story made it into his conversations with various journalists.

The well-known and highly talented Tyrone footballer Cathal McCarron has just revealed his own gambling addiction and, like other GAA stars before him, he is receiving help from the Gaelic Players Association.

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte has admitted that he’s known of McCarron’s problems for some time.

“Football is a secondary issue for Cathal right now,” said Harte as the player tries to come to terms and to grips with his problem.

Like Harte, Gillespie offered support and sympathy for McCarron on Monday and urged the player to contact him if he can help.

Their sports may be different but their stories are very similar. And they are not the only ones afflicted by this gambling bug.

It is an issue that sport needs to address and one, as Jimmy Magee will readily tell you, the major bodies are trying to tackle. We can only hope they succeed.

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)

Sideline Views

SOCCER: Jason McAteer got married in Limerick on Saturday and a fine time was had by all present at the reception which followed in the Dromoland Castle resort out by Shannon Airport. Funniest moment of the day came as we awaited the arrival of the bride in the church -- she was late, of course -- and word crept from the back of the congregation that Liverpool had taken the lead against Crystal Palace. That went down very well with the English visitors.

SOCCER: Great line from interim Ireland boss Noel King on Monday when he confirmed that he has seen Friday night’s opponents Germany – on his son’s FIFA 14 game on PlayStation. Apparently the Germans impressed King in their computer mode – wait till he seems them in the flesh in Cologne on Friday night!

GRAND PRIX: Lewis Hamilton had to reverse this week and retract his claims that world champion-elect Sebastian Vettel is “boring.” It’s a pity then that their sport is boring the pants off most of us in this part of the world these days. The proof in the pudding is the fact that their spat is more interesting than their racing.

GOLF: Great Britain and Ireland lost the bi-annual Seve Trophy to Continental Europe last weekend – not that anyone in Ireland really cared. There wasn’t an Irishman on the team despite the name, so those of us who care about Irish golf won’t cry too many tears over rumors of the event’s demise.

SOCCER: New Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has promised to quickly sort out the mess he has inherited from Paolo Di Canio. It may take him longer than he expects, but with Sunderland rooted to the bottom of the Premier League surely things can only get better for all concerned.

RUGBY: The 2015 Heineken Cup final will be played at the San Siro stadium in Milan that normally serves as host venue to soccer giants AC and Inter. It’s a great ground so hopefully there will be a Heineken Cup final next season.

HERO OF THE WEEK

Anthony Stokes is back in the Ireland squad and in fine form if his goal against Motherwell for Celtic on Saturday is anything to go by.  Ignored by Giovanni Trapattoni because of his poor attitude, Stokes insists he has learned his lesson and is ready to take his second chance with Ireland. Let’s hope he proves it on the pitch against Germany on Friday night. Everyone deserves a second chance after all.

IDIOT OF THE WEEK

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is an idol to many kids and a role model to many more across the globe. So what the hell was he doing posing for a photograph last week with a cigarette in his mouth? As a professional sportsman he should know a whole lot better. At least his Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has thrown the book at him.

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