Friday 9 December 2016

Former Leinster outhalf who retired after losing vision in one eye to make Barbarians debut

Ian McKinley

Published 20/04/2015 | 15:08

Ian McKinley during his Leinster days
Ian McKinley during his Leinster days

The story of former Leinster outhalf Ian McKinley is a truly inspirational one.

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Four years after he lost the sight in his right eye and retired from rugby, McKinley will take to the field with the Barbarians tomorrow in Scotland.

During his time at the province, he had begun to make the breakthrough behind Johnny Sexton, his talent earning him multiple caps at Leinster.

However, that career was cut short following a horrific injury in 2011 at the age of just 21. A UCD team-mate accidentally stood on his eye with his stud and despite efforts to stop his sight deteriorating, he lost vision in the eye, with little hope of carrying a rugby ball competitively again.

Around 33 months after his forced retirement, McKinley returned to the field with Italian Serie C side Leonorsowith thanks to specially designed goggles.

His form caught the attention of Viadana and suddenly McKinley was operating in the Italian top flight.

He has made 16 starts for the Italians, scoring four tries, and tomorrow will take tp the pitch with the the Barbarians in their clash with Heriot’s at Goldenacre in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The game marks Heriot's 125th anniversary and one truly amazing sporting comeback.

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