Kilkenny great Richie Power speaks on overcoming gambling issues

Kilkenny great Richie Power speaks on overcoming gambling issues

Former Kilkenny player Richie Power Jr. has opened up about his issues with gambling during his playing career.

The 38-year-old made his hurling senior debut in 2005 and won eight All-Ireland medals, five Leinster medals, and three National League medals during his time with Kilkenny. Power also had an accomplished club career with Carrickshock, winning various championships.

His career highlights include being a part of Kilkenny's four-in-a-row All-Ireland victories from 2006 to 2009.

Throughout his career, Power faced challenges, including a recurring knee ligament injury in 2015, but he played a crucial role in Kilkenny's continued dominance in Leinster and All-Ireland competitions. He announced his retirement from inter-county hurling in January 2016.

This week, Power was featured on TG4's documentary show Laochra Gael and has become the first player to be interviewed for the latest season. Power dives into how his career ended also speak about the gambling addiction, which he struggled to come to terms with.

Power Jnr, who first discussed his gambling issues in an interview two years ago, told the BBC GAA Social podcast at the time, "It would have been very small at the beginning, and then it really took hold of me. It grabbed hold of me, as it does, and it's affected so many other people as well. It affected me throughout my sporting career.

"Being an inter-county player, you have so much free time. On weekends, you're not out socialising. You're trying to maybe fill that void."

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Power has now opened up further about his "off-field" issues and how he convinced himself to get help for his addiction.

“I was only 28, going on 29, and at that time the demands on the personnel and the bodies were not as high as they are today. Definitely, I was hoping to push on after getting to grips with my off-field issues," he said on Laochra Gael this week.

“I knew that I had an issue. No matter how serious it is, you can never put your finger on it. I knew I was spending a lot more time on bookmaking and concentrating on gambling than other things. That just stayed going for years, unfortunately. There is this voice in your head that is screaming for help, and you just want to blurt it out and say it.

“Unfortunately, gambling addiction is one of those things that I still don’t understand myself. It isolates you from people and those closest to you. It doesn’t let you ask for help unless you hit rock bottom. That’s what I did, and that’s how I started to get the help that I really needed. That was through family, through the GPA. That’s where it started for me.”

Although the addiction had a huge effect on his life, Power Jr. never managed to get himself into serious financial trouble. He compared his journey of getting away from gambling to staying on a safer road.

“Fortunately enough, I did not get myself into huge debt," he added.

“Thankfully, I had that all cleared after a period of time, but again, it was more about getting the head right and getting the support at home.

“I mention the road to recovery an awful lot in the show, and that is what it is about; it is about getting on that road and staying on that road.”