Galway hurler Davy Glennon spoke in Tipperary Town today (Wednesday June 27th) of his recovery from a chronic gambling addiction that drove him to steal tens of thousands of euro from his employers and led to his mother remortgaging the family home to repay his debts.
Glennon was guest of the West Tipperary Mental Health Association who were receiving a cheque from Tipperary Community Services Centre, the proceeds of Smiley Pancake Day, which was held earlier in the year in the Centre's Restaurant.
In welcoming Davy to Tipperary Town, the Chair of the Association Martin Quinn joked that a Galway hurler was now very welcome in the town as Tipp were now out of the championship!
Martin said that it was important that in order to lead a healthy and positive life that we enjoy good physical and mental health. "In our association we try to create awareness of this and of the nature of the different forms of mental illness. There are many things that can affect our mental health and addiction is one of them. The reason we are here today is to learn and understand more about addiction and to hear a personal story of addiction to gambling and how it impacted on the life of a young man and on the lives of his family and those around him".
Davy gave a history of his gambling obsession, which began with him betting his lunch money during school and ended with him losing huge sums on soccer matches involving teams he had never heard of.
He spoke of going to work for a wholesale company in 2010 and recalls his start date clearly as it was just after the Galway races. His gambling habit however would threaten that company's existence after he stole huge sums of money to further his addiction.
"I was in denial for years and thought I would fight my way through it but every day when I got up all I could think about was when can I get to the bookies and had I enough money to gamble. The outlet I had and the buzz I got was from gambling. Not only was I gambling my own money, or loans I was getting from credit unions and banks, but I was gambling my employers money".
In 2015 he played poorly for Galway in a Leinster final and was substituted after just 27 minutes. The pressure was becoming unbearable. That night he got home from Croke Park and found himself alone.
"I knew it was going one way or another. If I did not get help I was basically going to kill myself. I didn't want to kill myself but wanted to kill the life I was living, but the only way to kill that life was to do something tragically. Then I got a text from my younger brother to say he was coming home and to leave the door open and something clicked with me as to what I was going to leave behind. I knew that I couldn't leave them with that burden".
Two days later his employers uncovered the scale of what had been happening. That evening he was in the Cuan Mhuire addiction treatment centre in Oranmore for a 12-week residential rehabilitation programme. Last month he was given 240 hours' community service in lieu of seven concurrent two-year prison sentences after pleading guilty to seven sample charges of theft from his employer.
Davy said that his overwhelming emotion now is of a huge sense of relief that he no longer has to continue telling countless lies to cover his tracks.
The Mullagh clubman said that he is repaying his debt to society and trying to make amends for what he has done and that coming to Tipperary to tell his story is all part of that journey.
There was warm and welcome appreciation from everyone present for the courage that Davy showed in telling his story. Martin Quinn said that it was insightful, very emotional and courageous and that it was very important to hear stories like Davy's and to understand the dangers of addiction and of the hurt and despair that it can cause to so many people.
Following the talk Davy went to the Canon Hayes Recreation Centre to do a skills/training session with the Solohead/Cappawhite U.12's, which was really enjoyed by all the team members and coaching staff.
Glennon was a non playing substitute for Galway when they won their first All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship in 29 years against Waterford last year and he is currently on the Galway panel that will play Kilkenny in the Leinster Final on Sunday.