Gambling is a major problem among GAA players say Gaelic Players Association
Football and Hurling players begin to come forward seeking professional help for their gambling and alcohol addictions
More and more Gaelic games players are coming to the Gaelic Players Association seeking professional help with gambling problems, according to Dessie Farrell.
The Association’s boss, Farrell, said the addiction is “like a steam train coming down the tracks.”
In the past year, three inter-county players have availed of the GPA’s services. Farrell says more are now “coming out of the woodwork.”
“In the last six months, this whole issue of gambling has taken us by surprise,” said Farrell.
"It's that severe and that widespread. But we're starting to ask more questions about it now. Gambling is so accessible. You can have fellas on a coach going to a Championship game and they're on the iPhone, making bets. It's become a big, big problem. We're trying to get people who are dealing with these mental health/addiction issues back on their feet and give them a plan.
"But we're finding that a lot of players are on this merry-go-round, just ghosting through their lives. They mightn't necessarily be the extreme cases where there is depression or alcohol abuse, but a lot of them are on this carousel and don't know what it is they want to do or where they want to go. There's this chaos in their heads and it's camouflaged by their inter-county career."
Speaking to the Irish Independent, he explained that now more GPA members are seeking help for their problems.
He said, “The extreme level is where players have to engage with our counselling service.
“We have a network of clinical psychologists around the country, which our players can access free.
"Some very extreme cases might require hospitalization or access to patient treatment clinics. In the last year, we've put three players into treatment centers for gambling addiction. Well, one was gambling/alcohol.
"But they're all coming out of the woodwork now with serious problems and the issues that stem from gambling, like significant debt and the upset in the home. There have been a lot of cases of that.
"This is going to hit us like a steam train coming down the tracks, that's how serious it is. We're actually talking to our counselors now to see what we can do about putting together an education programme around this."

For more information visit the Gaelic Players Association website.