herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

GAA stars talk about gambling addictions

GAA players who contacted a confidential helpline cited a gambling addiction as a major problem affecting their lives.

The 24-hour counselling service established by the Gaelic Players' Association (GPA) has received calls from more than 30 players since it was set up in December.

Cork hurler Donal Og Cusack said one major issue that has emerged from the contacts is addiction to gambling. He was speaking at the announcement of a partnership between the GPA and youth mental health group Headstrong.

Former Dublin footballer Dessie Farrell, who is chief executive of the GPA, added: "There is no community, parish or club that has not been affected by somebody taking their own life.

"We have all heard stories about young people who are in trouble and we know what lies behind these stories are often things they cannot talk about -- feeling very down, worry, drinking too much or gambling."

Oisin McConville, a former Armagh county footballer, and Offaly star Niall McNamee have previously spoken about their difficulties with the addiction.

Speaking last month, Mr McNamee estimated it has cost him €200,000 over the years and he still has debts of around €80,000.

Some 24 of the players who were offered long-term counselling after contacting the helpline agreed to take part.

comurphy@herald.ie

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