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Saturday 21 January 2017

'I genuinely didn't know how much I owed' - GAA legend McConville relives gambling hell

Published 16/03/2016 | 13:13

Oisin McConville
Oisin McConville

He is known to GAA fans as scoring the decisive goal in Armagh's 2002 All-Ireland final win but away from the glory of his inter-county career, Oisin McConville suffered from a crippling gambling addiction.

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The two-time Allstar talked about his problems in his autobiography The Gambler, but he opened up once more last night during a Prime Time special on how internet gambling has made the addiction even more prevalent.

In a wide-ranging discussion that touched on the work he now does as an addiction counsellor and the perils of internet gambling, McConville spoke about how he increasingly began to bet more and more during his teenage years.

"Very very quickly over the next number of years it sort of consumed my life and consumed my thoughts," he said.

"Financially there's an implication because I'm spending all my money and I don't have money to go out with friends, so you're isolated. It's creating social problems, it's causing emotional problems. At 14 I was probably gambling two or three times a year. By 19 I was gambling every single day, every single penny I had, beg, borrow and steal in order to get that money and have that bet."

When asked about how he recovered, the former Armagh star told a story of losing a huge bet, and afterwards being confronted by his family. That prompted him to seek treatment and get his life back on track. Despite having not bet in ten years, McConville painted a scary picture of his life during his gambling heyday.

"I genuinely didn't know how much I owed because whenever bills came in from building societies or credit cards I threw them in the bin," he admitted.

"I couldn't face reality that normal people were facing day-to-day."

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