Each weekend I go home the topic of our conversations are generally GAA-based.
Sometimes we have a ‘hello, how was your week’ moment but it’s never long until the conversations were GAA orientated.
Most of the time we are talking about the ambitions for the year, the previous match, up-and-coming young players or in Clonduff’s case how the new manager will get on.
Last week was a very hard week for hurling in Antrim with allegations and investigations being carried out on two separate incidents involving gambling.
I am in no way an expert on gambling. To be honest I went the whole way to Galway races last year and didn’t see a horse.
The adrenaline of sport is what makes it great. How often do we hear about the agony and the ecstasy for players and fans alike at the final whistle?
I think it is this same agony and ecstasy that leads to people becoming addicted to gambling; the high of the win and the low of the loss then the next bet to try and make up what you lost before and each time the bets getting are getting bigger and bigger.
Gambling addictions have a serious impact on a lot of people. The two incidents in Antrim last week didn’t just affect the players or person in question.
They impacted on families, friends, clubs, counties and communities.
The documentary on Crossmaglen a few weeks ago also had Oisin McConville speaking very openly and honestly about his gambling addiction and following on from the two incidents that became public knowledge last week it would lead you to believe that the problem of gambling is a lot bigger and serious than people probably realise.
A player betting to lose or a manager selecting an understrength team is match fixing.
It is something that is more prevalent in Gaelic football or Hurling than it is for Camogie or Ladies football simply because ladies don’t have the same profile until it reached the later stages of the championship, but I have tried to imagine what it would be like for me if I played on a team and that some players involved had bet against us. I honestly don’t think I would be able to play with them.
How can a team be successful unless everyone buys into it and genuinely believes they can win?
Where is the respect for yourself and your team mates? Quite often there are family and friends involved as well.
It only takes one or two players for a rot like this to set in.
Antrim were odds-on favourites to beat London in the National League and for a proud hurling county this should have been a win.
The questions we have to ask ourselves is could any of these players realised that they had chance to win the match but didn’t take it, and were more happy about winning a bet?
If that is true, and they won the bet, but while they win unfortunately a lot of people suffer as a result.
The GAA should take a strong stance on gambling and introduce lengthy bans for anyone who is involved in match fixing at any level.
The commitment players and managers give to play sport at inter-county level is overwhelming, everything comes second to the team and what you’re trying to achieve.
Are all of those sacrifices worth giving up for a quick euro or a pound?