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Price to pay for gambling is not simply financial debt

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Pictured at an awareness meeting about gambling in Mannion's of Abbeyknockmoy organised by Anne Rabbitte, TD, were speakers Davy Glennon, Senior Galway Hurler; Tom Blanche, Educator Consultant; Anne Rabbitte; David Hickson, The Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland; and Oisín McConville, former Armagh Footballer. Photos: Johnny Ryan Photography.

Lifestyle –  Dearbhla Geraghty hears how addiction to gambling ruined the lives of GAA stars Davy Glennon and Oisín McConville

Galway hurler, Davy Glennon, watched his team mates compete in the 2015 All-Ireland final without him – he was in treatment for a gambling addiction that had completely taken over his life.

The following year, however, he was back training with the team he had always dreamed of playing for, and had set up a charity to help others who also faced similar demons.

From his first bet at the age of 16, to the beginning of his recovery nearly two years ago, he had become a different person.

“I was being a menace, a compulsive liar, I had no respect for myself, and my conscience was gone,” the 26 year-old says.

“I was living two lives – one that everyone wanted to see, and my own life, where there were dark places – do I beg, borrow or steal (to get the money). It wasn’t me, as a young person, to be a compulsive liar, a compulsive gambler.

“I was ruining my talent, my family, and all those affected by my gambling. There were dark days, days when I just wanted to get out. I didn’t want to kill myself, but to kill that life I was living. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, who could I tell?”

He says that he is not out of the woods yet, that he will have debts until the days he dies, and he knows that it will take years before he builds back up the trust others had in him.

“I hurled in the Leinster final for my county, where every young star wants to be, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind,” he recalls.

“I was isolated from friends and living between the white lines – once in off the field, I was asking myself where do I get the money. It was a rat race . . . the hurling had painted over all the cracks, and gambling had taken that away from me.”

Despite much intervention, he could not stop the addiction until he had truly accepted his “massive problem.”

His father used to warn that he would end up in the same treatment centre (Cuan Mhuire in Coolarne) as All-Ireland winning Armagh footballer, Oisín McConville – and he did, but only when he actually wanted to be there.

Davy’s recovery began less than two years ago, in July 2015, when he finally confessed everything to his mother. A three-month stint in treatment centre followed, which meant that he missed out on a shot at the All-Ireland final that year.

“There is no point doing it unless you are honest to yourself. It was hard, and when I walked in I was wondering what was I doing there.”

He was ready to acknowledge, however, that he needed to be isolated, and to do the normal things such as going to bed on time – not coming home late, just to avoid probing questions from his family.

He stuck-out the treatment, emerging a much stronger person, and even set up a charity walk, Croker to Cuan Mhuire, to give something back to the community.

“The day the walkers walked into Mullagh, I was preparing for the quarter final – the previous year I had been in treatment. I had to watch Galway getting to the quarter final, and winning it, then the semi final, and the All-Ireland final, parading around in front of 84,000 people – I would have been there, but the gambling had taken all that away from me.”

The talented hurler was one of four speakers at an event organised by TD Anne Rabbitte in Abbeyknockmoy, about an issue that is affecting a growing number of people across the sexes and ages.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell

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Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara

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Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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