A decade after sight loss Donnacha to make international football debut in Romania

Growing up in West Cork football always played a significant role in

my life – from quick 15 minute games during school breaks to

competitive matches with my local club I was rarely seen without a

football close by. This was all taken away from me or so I thought, at

the age of 10 when I developed a form of lukemia which affected the

optic nerves in my eyes leaving me with total sight loss in a matter

of weeks.

All of a sudden I wasn’t able to kick a ball, take part in club

matches or even have a simple kick around with my friends. Not only

was my sight gone, but the ability to play football was also robbed

from me.

In 2009 I heard about a blind football session the FAI was holding as

part of their Football For All programme and with some encouragement

from my friends and family I went out and bought my first pair of

football shorts and socks in almost 10 years and attended the session.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but the football contained ball barings

so I had to rely on my ears rather than my eyes to locate and track

the ball. a constint flow of communication needed to be kept up with

both my team mates and coaches to avoid collisions and know where

there was free space to attack and I had to modify my dribbling

technique to be in constant contact and control of the ball. I left

that session sweaty and both mentally and physically drained but I was

buzzing as I had rediscovered the sport I loved!

Both the sport in Ireland and my own football ability has come a long

way since that session in 2009 – we now have three regional centers in

Ireland and we have travelled to club tournaments all over Europe

picking up tips and learning more about the sport with every match we

play. I am also now part of the Irish International team which is

traveling to Romania for a European qualifying tournament in April –

something I thought was never possible back when I first lost my


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