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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Mark Donlon

Republic of Ireland star Clare Shine bravely opens up on suicidal thoughts and alcohol addiction

Clare Shine has bravely opened up on suicidal thoughts and a struggle with alcohol addiction which has affected the 27-year-old during her playing career.

The Republic of Ireland star, a former Cork camogie player, is currently playing with SWPL side Glasgow City, who face Celtic in the Scottish Cup final this Sunday.

Shine will be eyeing glory this weekend, but she told Ryan Tubridy on his RTE Radio 1 show of the preceding years in her career where football made way for alcohol - an addiction which brought her close to taking her own life on two occasions.

Speaking to Tubridy about her new book 'Scoring Goals in the Dark', Shine described the onset of her issues with alcohol.

She said: "I had no control over my decisions, I was powerless.

"I wanted to be part of the team but I wasn't doing the right things to look after myself to go and represent my country at that time."

Shine recalled an Ireland game away to the Netherlands where she was not part of the playing squad and described how alcohol was beginning to become predominant in her life.

Clare Shine (©INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy)

She explained: "When I went over to that game I just wanted to have a good time.

"I ended up turning up to the game under the influence. I was sitting up in the stand trying to hide the fact that I had a bottle of wine in my bag from the parents and the supporters that had travelled over from Ireland.

"I was in the squad a few months before that and for me to be watching the team I was dying to be involved in, drinking a bottle of wine, that's when you know there's definitely something wrong.

"I didn't care, I only thought about where I was going to be able to have a good time and there was nothing getting in the way of that at that time."

Shine explained that her issues with alcohol were all-encompassing and getting in the way of her day-to-day life as a professional footballer.

She revealed: "There were a number of events and moments before that where alcohol was becoming a problem. I was turning up to training after being in the pub for a number of hours or turning up to games from nights out and not really having a care in the world.

"It really did take over my life to a point where I had no control.

"I had these dreams and targets of becoming a first team player with Ireland and it was really hard for me to take that control back.

Clare Shine playing for Glasgow City with Demi Vance of Rangers (Getty Images)

"Looking back on the person I was, it's crazy looking back now on the person that I was; I was completely powerless."

A day spent in the pub drinking while watching her teammates play on TV sticks out for Shine as a reminder of the road she had gone down.

She said: "I can remember a particular incident where I was in the pub and my team were playing. Girls that I would've grown up with were playing on the TV. I was sitting there with a pint in front of me thinking 'what am I actually doing with my life?'.

"I'd accepted this was my new hobby and the thing I would do for the next number of months. I knew I was struggling and that all of the decisions I was making were wrong but I had no power to change any of it - that's the power of addiction and the things people don't see.

"That day when I was watching the girls on TV was one of the lowest moments of my life."

In October 2018, Shine attempted to take her own life - something which she describes in her book as wanting to bring her 'petty existence' to an end.

She explained: "It had been on my mind a lot before I had made the decision. Anyone who has experienced suicidal thoughts knows how gripping it is and how hard it is to take your mind away from it.

"There were loads of nights where I lay in bed thinking about it. I drowned out those thoughts by taking drugs, going to the pub, doing things I thought were helping me but were really feeding my mental health in the wrong ways.

Clare Shine with her book 'Scoring Goals in the Dark' (Instagram/ Clare Shine)

"I was intoxicated that night and it just triggered something in my mind and the decision that I thought was the only way out for me. It led to me acting on those thoughts and I'm thankful that it didnt leave me with serious injuries.

"It was an eye opening experience for me because I knew I needed help, I knew I had to reach out and change my ways and my lifestyle and that's when my recovery really did start."

Having taken a positive leap forward following that low ebb, Shine's recovery was compromised as the Covid-19 pandemic arrived and the entrapment of lockdown smothered the everyday lives of so many.

She added: "Obviously I had the experience of going to a drug and alchohol centre and I worked so hard on myself for a year and a half and then for it to just come crashing down, all my hard work just meant nothing.

"It was as if I had forgotten about everything I had worked for throughout that period. I was back in the international team, got my first start, then a couple of weeks later I was in the depths of my addiction again.

"That was really hard for me to accept and I didn't want to reach out for help because I didn't want to admit that I had fallen so low again after everything I had put myself through in terms of going through really tough experiences and breaking myself down to a point where the only way was up.

"Going through recovery breaks you down into a million pieces for you to put all those pieces back together in a different way. For me, that was really really hard because I had to do it all again and didnt want to have to do it all again."

Shine spent one month in hospital back in 2020 following a second attempt on her life. A picture posted onto social media laid bare the realities of her addiction to many who were not previously aware of the problem. For the Ireland star, the power of opening up was life-changing.

She concluded: "I've learnt that talking and being open and honest is the real therapy.

"Once you trust the process and start doing the right things, you do start to see a light. Recovery comes first, anything after that comes second. Routine and structure to everyday life is so important to me.

"That's the harsh reality of mental health and addiciton; if you don't look after it, it's never going to get better. If I don't keep on track with it, it will take me back down that road and that's a road that I never want to go down again.

"I needed to go through those experiences in life to understand and appreciate the good things in life."

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