Darren’s Diary – Kicking the Habit (Day 3) – Thursday, 22nd February 


I have to say that if I came up with this idea years ago, I feel I would have banished the cigarettes a long time ago.  The messages of support have been unreal and while I don’t want to overstate what I’m trying to achieve as it’s only the third day, my confidence has been given a massive boost. 

While my intentions for writing the diary has been to share the experience, it’s nice to hear the amount of people rooting for me to quit and between messages, posts and chats, I feel I will finally kick this habit.

I was a serious anti-smoker in my younger days before I discovered cigars.  Indeed, one ex-girlfriend will remember me breaking some of her packets years ago.  I did replace them eventually I think but that was still wrong of me to do.

Everyone has to make their own decisions because it’s their choice.  And from my own aborted attempts, I know how hard it is to do and there’ll be no success if someone is quitting them because they feel forced.

That being said, that lady is off the cigarettes for many years now and she was one of the first people to message me wishing me the best of luck when I announced my intentions.  I will apologise for breaking packets and hope I did replace them.  If not, I definitely owe a few pints down the line 🙂.

One of my best friends for over 30 years is Martin Ward and had a great chat with him today when we were doing the shopping in Tesco.  In regards our cigarette smoking lives, we both have being late starters but coming around to a different way of thinking as the big 4-0 arrives around the corner.

If I’m correct, I started smoking before Martin and I was 20.  Martin made a decision before Christmas to drop them and has now been over 11 weeks clean.  Realising how hard it is, I admire and respect Martin even more now and look forward to our first night out together without going out to the smoking area.

Martin went the e-cigarette route which a lot of people have found effective.  Now, it never appealed to me.  My pharmacy days always suggested the gum works if you have discipline.  I think the latter has been my downfall in the past.  But as you get older, you start to appreciate the good things that can be achieved if you decide to forgo the bad habits blocking your path.

Another close friend, Una Ni Bhroin, sent me a lovely message letting me know about all the various outlets there to help me if I start struggling.  In a later post, I will definitely highlight these for anyone considering quitting for good.  At the moment, being able share my day with you has me feeling good.

I did have my first two Nicorette gums last night.  Was a pre-caution I must admit as I had a big chess match in our Senior Club Championship and didn’t want the thoughts of smoking distracting me.

I didn’t get the required result as our top seed and defending champion Tommy Dunne Jr edged me in a two hour plus contest.  But enjoyed the game and felt I challenged him to the end as I wasn’t going outside every 30 minutes for a puff.


The Ballinasloe Chess Club is arguably the proudest thing I have ever been involved with and to see it go from strength to strength will be something I’ll look back on with fierce pride in years to come.

It’s hard to believe that it’s 16 years ago since Geraldine Deane asked me to give a one-hour lesson to her son and six friends before the Community Games.  I can still remember the full squad – Tony Deane, Kenneth Dillon, Ross McCarthy, Jonathan Brooks, David Finnegan, Conor Johnston and Jake Mulvany.

I promised I’d just watch them for half an hour but I’d say I didn’t stay quiet for 10 seconds 🙂.  They were opening with rook pawns which would be like marshalling a GAA defence without a full back and centre back.  But they were eager to learn and had talent and we reached the County Final in April.

I could spend a whole article mentioning the great people, especially John McKenna and Ron Cummins, who have built Ballinasloe Chess Club to a group with over 70 active members now.  And maybe some other day I will.

But after we finished playing last night, we were all hooked on an epic battle between Abdullah Shahid and Jessica Tully that went nearly the full three hours.  I’m blessed that parents are understandable when we still have their children out at 11pm on a school night.  Doesn’t happen too often but shows the commitment our young players bring.

After an over and back tussle, they eventually finished in a draw.  Abdullah is on our under 16 team this year and Jessica is on our under 13 side.  No player playing for us in 2018 was born when the initial squad represented us in 2002.  Our club is a generation old 🙂

Tonight is bacon night with herself and that’s always a treat I always look forward to.  Will probably have that eaten by the time you read this.  They say the first three days are the hardest and providing my mood doesn’t change, I’ll have that knocked out of the park tonight.