Sport Gaelic Football

Friday 23 February 2018

Gambling time-bomb has gone off – Leahy

Tipperary hurling legend John Leahy
Tipperary hurling legend John Leahy

Jackie Cahill

TIPPERARY hurling legend John Leahy believes that the ticking time-bomb of gambling in the GAA has already exploded.

Leahy, a qualified addiction counsellor, explained the consequences of the "progressive" spiral into debt, despair and possibly suicide when he attended the launch of the 2014 Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League yesterday.

Next Monday at Croke Park, GAA chiefs will launch their gambling guidelines for players and clubs, with Offaly star Niall McNamee and former Armagh All-Ireland SFC winner Oisin McConville scheduled to attend.

Both men were compulsive gamblers and Leahy himself battled alcohol addiction. When asked about the growing scourge of excessive gambling in the GAA, Leahy admitted: "I think the bomb has gone off.

"People don't realise with the gambling, you are on an emotional rollercoaster. When you win you get a high, when you lose you are down in the dumps. When you end up losing and start chasing the debt, they are in the depths of it and that's not a nice place to be for a person."

And Leahy insists that addiction can lead to decreased levels of performance on the playing fields.

Leahy added: "I have no doubt that, if you've lost a few bob or are in debt, it has to have an effect of how you are going to perform and how you are on a daily basis.

"It's not only a bit of gambling, there is a side effect. It's progressive as well, small bets today, bigger bets six months' time, bigger in 12 months time, it is not possible to perform to the best of your ability."

Irish Independent

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