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GPA admit gambling amongst GAA players a ‘continuing worry’

Tyrone’s Cathal McCarron has become the latest inter-county star to struggle with the problem.

Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

GAMBLING ISSUES ARE responsible for a third of the calls made to the Gaelic Players Association’s helpline since  the service was established in 2010.

Tyrone’s Allstar nominee Cathal McCarron has become the latest inter-county star to struggle with the problem after previous high-profile cases affecting ex-Armagh forwad Oisin McConville and Offaly’s Niall McNamee.

The GPA have admitted that players battling gambling addictions is ‘a continuing worry’ for the players organisation.

“We don’t comment on specific cases but the issue of gambling is a continuing worry”, GPA spokesperson Sean Potts told TheScore.ie

Since we set up our 24-hour helpline in 2010, we have had around 100 calls from members. The biggest problem is depression but the second biggest is related to gambling with about 30 of our calls from players in relation to that.

“What we provide is a service where psychologists have the ability to diagnose, then there is support provided in treatment and then after care. There is no payment to ease the financial burden players might be under, it is strictly to do with the therapy to help them.”

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Tyrone’s Cathal McCarron
Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The GPA have published a guide on gambling that is currently being distributed to players.

“It’s a simple guideline to the potential pitfalls for gambling”, revealed Potts. “We feel that gambling is so accessible and the potential for problems to develop are great.

“Elite athletes are particularly vulnerable to gambling in our view. They can be detached from their peers and normal socialising which leads to attempts to seek highs in different ways.

“But gambling is a societal issue in Ireland and there’s a culture of gambling in sport where every event is discussed in terms of odds. That’s just part of the narrative.”

The GPA have consulted with the GAA to increase awareness on the issue. The potential for match-fixing to arise is a scenario they are also aware of.

“The issue with gambling is twofold”, outlines Potts. “There is a potential for a player to become addicted and the potential for match fixing to occur in relation to the easing of debt. We haven’t had any evidence of that in the GAA.

“But we are conscious that is has occurred in other sporting codes. So rather than waiting for something to happen, we’re being active in educating our members. The GAA see the idea of getting involved in the campaign.

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Fintan O'Toole

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