Top Irish footballer admits to gambling addiction that almost ruined his life
Says he was saved by the Gaelic Players Association and his father’s intervention
"And that's the powerful thing about it. You're not alone. There is loads of help out there.
"I often say to people now, for anyone that thinks they have a problem, or who might have a family member in trouble or whatever, the hardest thing in the world is to actually admit it, but when you actually do admit it, it's the best feeling in the world.
"The weight off my shoulders when I told my father was unbelievable. I've said to people this very same thing: once you say 'right, this is exactly where I am' and put your hand up, it's so easy to fix it. That sounds easy for me to say, but it actually is. It's not the end of the world. You can actually sort yourself out.
"It's just at the time it's so much pressure. People's circumstances are different, the family or whatever, they might be afraid to tell anyone, they want to sort it themselves.
"It's embarrassing, well, it's not embarrassing, but you feel like you've failed.
"I was 25, just turned 26 and I felt, 'where am I going with my life? I owe X amount of money, I'm gambling my wages away every week. I'm not doing anything with my life. I'm going to work, gambling money at the week-ends, going training, playing football, but there's no direction, just living from week to week.'
"That's a horrible feeling for anyone to have. When I was growing up I would have set massive targets for myself, telling myself you can achieve anything you want and then found myself for four or five years in a rut doing the same thing over and over again.
"The difference now is once I've come into recovery, and have stopped gambling, I can see I can have a good life and be the best person I can possibly be.
"I think I can do anything I want to do, whereas two years ago I would have seen no value to myself. I didn't give a s**t about myself."
"It's a hard thing for any player to be injured and disappointments like that would be something that would have driven me to go gambling," he says.
"I'd want to get away, I'd be in bad form and say, 'ah, here, the hell with it, I'm off.'
"Even now, this year I tore my quad, and for five or six weeks it's a terrible place to be if you're injured.
"If I didn't have people to talk to, meetings to go to, and people to chat about all the stuff going on in your head, it could bring you back to all that stuff (gambling).
"That's something people don't realize. There's a lot of pressure on footballers to perform, week in, week out.
"Having an injury, or issues that could be going on at home, or problems at work, can weigh people down.
"If you don't have someone to talk about those worries, and they have a gambling addiction or if they're an alcoholic or whatever, it could set them off and make the problem worse.
"I've been lucky that I've good people around me and I can talk to them about anything that's going on.
"I think the lads with Offaly can see that as well. I'm very open with all the players. I'm very aware of lads that have a lot of stuff going on in their lives outside football. If they need anyone to talk to, I'm available.
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