Tyrone footballer opens up about the depths of his crippling gambling addiction
Conn Kilpatrick has opened up about a crippling gambling addiction that saw him amass debts of over £10,000 on two separate occasions.
The All-Ireland winning midfielder is now clean, having not placed a bet in almost three years but as he hauled himself back over the coals on Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ on Monday night, he admitted that, with nowhere else to borrow money from, it was only because he had reached a dead-end that he stopped.
Indeed, having initially called it quits in 2018, Kilpatrick's 2019 relapse when, "one morning, something just came over me," serves as a chilling reminder about the perils and the dangers of this terrible addiction.
All through the interview, the young man showed maturity above his years and with gambling so widespread and so accessible these days, you would hope that his honesty will help others emerge and recover from similarly difficult positions.
Kilpatrick's advice to those in such a position is that, even at the worst of times "you deserve far more credit than you think you're worth."
"Gamblers anonymous meetings were ongoing but for the first year and a half, I didn't go to any of them because I felt I could do it myself. I felt embarrassed that people in the town would see me going," said the Edendork man.
"I was borrowing from friends and family, my brother, my granny, different friends and just anywhere where I could get the money. I was saying that I needed to pay the car payment or I was going on holiday and was a bit short and I needed a bit more.
"I wasn't a great person to be around. I was coming home and if I had won I was in a great mood but nine times out of ten I had lost so I was coming in very moody. Nobody could talk to me, I was always snapping back. I just wanted to go into my room and get on my phone and see who I could borrow money from, the next person, and what I was going to gamble on the next day, what football or horses."
Three weeks ago Tyrone footballer Conn Kilpatrick was celebrating an All Ireland victory in Croke Park. But three years earlier he was struggling with a gambling addiction.#CBLive pic.twitter.com/0msxZwKSkw
— Claire Byrne Live (@ClaireByrneLive) October 4, 2021
Kilpatrick references the pain he inflicted on his family with his 2019 relapse and how this is something he never wants to experience or cause again.
"Dad was just distraught. He was like ‘How can you let this happen, do you not know what you’ve obviously done to the family and the hurt you’ve caused’ and he was 100pc right.
"My mother wasn't in the house at the time, she was up at my granny’s and I begged and pleaded with him not to tell her and that I would get through it with him. He obviously couldn’t not tell her. He rang her and she came down to the house and we sat in the same living room that I sat in the year and a half before and just had to get everything restarted again."
By now, he has learned to cope with his demons and as well as giving him a better life, he says that it has also helped him enjoy his football more.
"Now I can go to training fully focused on the pitch and know what I have to do and know that nobody has anything to say to me,” Conn said.
"Whenever I was caught it was still a weight lifted off my shoulders and if you’re big enough to own up then you deserve far more credit that you think you’re worth,” he said.