OFFALY's leading footballer, Niall McNamee, has bared his soul about a gambling addiction that has cost him an estimated €200,000 over the years and left him with outstanding debts of around €80,000.
The free-scoring forward recently completed five weeks of treatment in Dublin's Rutland Centre, coming out on December 28, and now he's committing "100 per cent effort" to his new way of "living without gambling".
At this stage McNamee doesn't know when he'll be ready to resume playing, suggesting it could be as long as six months or as little as one month.
Matters came to a head for the former All Star nominee last November when father John tackled his 26-year-old son about his problems.
"That night my father wasn't cross with me. It was just concern," McNamee added.
"He basically said he'd rung around people, he'd made a few enquiries, and he just knew there was something really wrong.
"I was denying it for 20 minutes or so. I was saying: 'Look, I have everything sorted' and then I just went, 'f*** this' and broke down and came clean. It was the best thing I've ever done. It was a weight off my shoulders."
The Rhode clubman had been gambling heavily for the last five to six years but would have known "over the last three, maybe four years, that I had a major problem," he outlined.
"I would have gone to my parents a number of times and they would have bailed me out.
"And I would have sworn to them then that was the end of it.
"At the time I would have meant it. I wanted to stop, but I never did anything about it.
"But over the last couple of months I could just feel the walls coming in around me," added McNamee.
McNamee has gone public "for myself more than anything else", on the basis that once people know the full story it should "stop the rumours".
He explained: "Part of the treatment is that I don't drink for a year.
"That's fine by me. I never took drugs and the alcohol isn't a massive problem.
"But gambling has beaten me. I know I can't handle it. I don't ever want to gamble again," stressed the talented Rhode forward.