Kilkenny legend bravely tackles gambling addiction
Kilkenny legend Richie Power has revealed how he struggled with gambling addiction throughout his illustrious sporting career.
In a candid interview with the BBC’s GAA Social podcast, the Carrickshock clubman – who won eight senior All-Ireland medals with the Cats – said he used gambling as an escape.
“I’ve struggled with a gambling addiction,” Power said.
“It started at a relatively young age, around probably 17, 18 and it would have been very small at the beginning. Then I suppose it just took a hold of me really. Grabbed a hold of me as it has affected so many other people as well.
“(It) affected me throughout my sporting career. I just felt, being an intercounty player, you have so much free time. Weekends, not out socialising.
“You are trying to maybe fill that void. I would have used gambling as a huge escape. It was escapism for me, away from hurling, away from other problems that were going on in my life.
“Injuries, for example. I would have seen any time I broke down injured, I would spiral that way.”
The two-time All-Star said his addiction had a devastating impact on him, but he struggled to ask for help.
“It just had a huge impact on me personally both mentally and physically. I was hurling with Kilkenny and all this was going on in the background. You’re trying to manifest a life that is perfect and great whereas at the back of it you are just in complete turmoil. Fighting with it.
“Knowing that I was struggling with an addiction but not being strong enough to ask for help or to go home and sit down with my parents and family and not being man enough to do that…”
But everything would eventually come to a head in 2013. After suffering a drop in form and fitness, he attended a meeting with Brian Cody and the Kilkenny management. While he wasn’t told his career wasn’t over, he was warned it was in own hands to sort matters off the field.
“Brian was aware. I won’t say he was aware of how bad things aware but he was aware of my gambling. That kind of led me to everything coming out at home with my mam and dad, my brother and sister. Everything was put on the table and luckily enough, I couldn’t… the GPA were a huge help.
“I remember me and dad drove up to the Carrickdale hotel to sit down with Oisín (McConville) for a few hours to talk. That was the start of the road to recovery.”
Power went on to score a goal in the 2014 All-Ireland final replay and come on as a substitute in the 2015 final before retiring from inter-county hurling after that season.
“The big thing I learned in recovery over the years is you try not to let it define you. I’m trying but it is a struggle. You try and learn from it and obviously be a better person from it.”