Dublin man overcame drug addiction and leg amputation to play for Bohemian FC

“Nobody says to themselves when they are a young kid; ‘I want to lose my leg’ or see my kidneys fail.”

Knockser teaser trailer

Níall Feiritear

An incredible new Irish documentary charts the journey of one Dubliner’s redemption from the clutches of drug addiction into a new life and rebirth through football.

‘Knockser’ is a gripping and brutally honest short film that centres on the journey of Bohemian FC amputee player, Donal ‘Knockser’ Bligh.

“Nobody says to themselves they want to be a drug addict. Nobody says, ‘I want to sleep on the streets, break down family relationships.’ I was going to be cleverer than that,” Donal says.

“But unfortunately, it wasn’t to be the case.”

Film poster

Selected for the prestigious ‘Fastnet Film Festival’ in Cork later this month, ‘Knockser’ is a powerful reminder of how football can transform lives.

Raised in Dublin during the 90s, Donal was captivated by Ireland’s football success during that decade, when the country reached the knock-out stages of two World Cups.

Donal was a gifted footballer but his passion was derailed by addiction, which caused the amputation of his leg.

The Dubliner refused to let disability destroy his life and he built himself up with the help of a team of amputee footballers. Donal found a new sense of purpose and belonging on the pitch.

Fellow Dubliner, Darragh Foy, is the film’s director. He gave an insight into how the documentary came into being.

Dalymount Park, home of Bohs

“After meeting Donal, I was instantly drawn to his story. To hear how he had managed to turn his life around, against the odds; we felt it was an essential story. One full of humanity that we were honoured to tell.

“Football is the catalyst in Donal’s life and his story is proof of its role in society and how it is much more than just ‘the beautiful game’,” Darragh said.

The talented video editor also described the impact of the sport in people’s daily lives.

“It’s a community meeting point, where lifelong friendships are made. It’s a healthy outlet, a place to pursue and perfect, healthy formative habits that you can utilize for the rest of your life,” Darragh added.

Knockser teaser trailer

Donal played for Bohemian FC and represented Ireland on the international stage. He currently coaches the on FAI ‘football for all’ programme, which aims to deliver soccer opportunities to people who may not ordinarily get the chance to play ‘the beautiful game.’

‘Knockser’ is brought to the big screen by ‘Taller Stories,’ a Dublin based production company which specialise in online video and commercials.

The short film will be on display in May at the ‘Fastnet Film Festival’ in Cork on: Wednesday 24 in The Adelphi at 17:00, Friday 26 in The Royal (Arran St East) at 14:00, and Saturday 27 in The Adelphi at 16:00 with further dates to be added nationwide soon.

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