Tyrone GAA star Conn Kilpatrick has opened up about his gambling addiction and how he has managed to rack up five-figure debt on two occasions.
He said he started gambling innocently as a teenager, but his gambling habit quickly grew into an addiction that caused him to borrow thousands of dollars to feed his habit.
Kilpatrick admitted he only stopped because he was caught after friends told his father and it took him a while to realize the depth of his addiction.
He relapsed 18 months after quitting betting for the first time.
“In the back of your mind you know you have a problem and I had many conversations with myself on the way home from the bookies thinking I had that money there, why did I replay it “I had the money to write off my debts and do what I wanted and get what I wanted, a car I wanted or go on vacation. It obviously never worked out that way,” Kilpatrick said on Claire Byrne Live from RTÉ.
“I think people had a little idea because obviously if I was in bookies a lot, with football, people would have talked and said ‘have you seen it? or “he comes quite regularly.” Then in 2018 it all came out. I had just borrowed too much money and stole so much money that it all caught up with me.
“I was borrowing from friends and family, from my brother, from my grandmother, from different friends and anywhere I could find money. I was maybe saying I had to pay. payment for the car or I was going on vacation and I was a little short and needed a little more.
“To be honest, I could make up a lie as quickly as I could do anything. Whatever I had to say to get it, I probably said it. When you look back at some of the things that I said, it was crazy.
“I was not a great person. I would come home and if I had won I was in a good mood, but nine times out of 10 I had lost so I would come home in a really bad mood. talking to me, I just wanted to go to my room and pick up my phone and see who I could borrow money from, the next person and what I was going to play the next day, what football or horses, “Conn said.
Conn said he had managed to quit betting for over 18 months, but woke up one morning and said, “It was like something was happening to me,” and he started gambling again for a while. six month period. He had accumulated around £ 10,000 in debt for the second time.
He said once again that it was his friends who alerted his family and that is what ended his addiction.
“Again I got caught by a friend of mine. I borrowed from too many people again and he got wind of it. He just called my dad and said, I got the money again. my dad called and I knew, in 2018 I just knew and I just knew in 2019 when I got caught again.
“He was just upset. ‘How can you let that happen, don’t you know what you’ve obviously done to the family and the harm you’ve done’ and he was 100% right.
“My mom wasn’t in the house at the time, she was at my grandmother’s and I begged and begged him not to tell her and that I would be okay with him. He obviously couldn’t. not not to tell her. He called her and she went down to the house and we sat in the same living room as me a year and a half ago and had to restart everything, ”Conn said.
The Tyrone star hasn’t played for more than 18 months and says ex-Armagh footballer Óisín McConville has been a big help in his recovery, admitting they have a “close relationship “.
“I can go to bed sleeping at night without worrying about who I owe money to, where I’m going to get the money tomorrow. I can go to training. In the past, j I was going to practice to probably walk away and take a break, but it still hampered my football.
“Now I can train fully focused on the pitch and know what to do and know that no one has anything to tell me,” said Conn.
He encouraged anyone with the same issue to seek help from family, friends, or Gamblers Anonymous.
“Every time I was caught it was always a weight off my shoulders and if you’re tall enough to take it you deserve a lot more credit than you think you are worth,” he said. .
Gamblers Anonymous can be contacted at: https://www.gamblersanonymous.ie