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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 September 2007, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
McConville talks of gambling hell
Oisin McConville
Oisin McConville has been helped by Gamblers Anonymous
Armagh gaelic football star Oisin McConville has spoken of his gambling addiction which left him with debts of more than 100,000.

In an exclusive interview with BBC Sport NI, McConville revealed that the problem "spiralled out of control" after Armagh's 2002 All-Ireland win.

"There was one day when I'd lost maybe 10,000," said the Crossmaglen man.

"I went out to the car and gathered together maybe 8 and went back (to the shop) and had another bet."

With no money left after that day's betting, McConville has barely enough fuel left in his car to take him home.

"When I was was driving home, the diesel light was on my car and I almost didn't have enough to get home.

"At that point, I just said to myself:'I can't go on like this any more'."

McConville spoke to BBC Northern Ireland journalist Denise Watson in advance of the publication of his autobiography entitled 'The Gambler' in November.

My life was totally unmanageable
Oisin McConville

The book will detail the former All Star's five-year battle against his addiction and subsequent rehabilitation.

McConville told the BBC that he had been "eaten up" by his gambling problem.

"I was trying to portray to the general public that everything was brilliant, that I was playing great football and that it was great to be in the limelight.

"It was probably late 2002 and 2003 that the whole thing really started to spiral out of control.

"But the first thing you hear when you go to Gamblers Anonymous is the way your life has become uncontrollable due to gambling.

"That was exactly what it had done. My life was totally unmanageable.

"It had taken me from one of the highest points of my life to just rock-bottom."

McConville acknowledged that he felt "humiliated" by his situation.

"I had no pride left, no self-esteem."

With gambling it is inside. Generally speaking nobody know that it's happening
Oisin McConville

The footballer gambled on "horses, poker games - really anything that moved" before his family's intervention started him on the road to rehabilitation.

"They were very good. They got me to spend three months in a place in Galway and that was where it all started for me.

"People may see it as three months of your life wasted but to be honest, it was the best three months I ever spent in my life."

McConville says that he knows that there are many people who have become mired in exactly the same predicament that he found himself.

"They need to come forward and admit it.

"Alcoholism you can see because you may see something stumbling out of a pub.

"With gambling it is inside. Generally speaking nobody know that it's happening."

McConville believes that sporting organisations such as the GAA should be aware of the problem.

"The GAA maybe needs to go out into the clubs and the counties and say that if there is a problem that we maybe have somebody here who can help."

McConville's musings
19 May 07 |  Gaelic Games


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