Saturday 23 September 2017

'I had two gouging incidents in my good eye, and one I know was intentional' - Ian McKinley reveals two 'unsavoury' incidents

3 December 2016; Ian McKinley of Treviso puts on his protective goggles during the Guinness PRO12 Round 10 match between Connacht and Benetton Treviso at The Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
3 December 2016; Ian McKinley of Treviso puts on his protective goggles during the Guinness PRO12 Round 10 match between Connacht and Benetton Treviso at The Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole

Treviso fly-half Ian McKinley has revealed that he had his eye gouged twice in his return to rugby following four eye operations that forced his retirement from the sport in 2011.

McKinley, who was capped six times by Leinster after making his professional debut against Edinburgh in 2009, was forced to retire from professional rugby following a stray boot from a teammate which perforated his left eye in a club game with UCD in 2010.

McKinley would return to club rugby briefly, before undergoing a further two operations after developing a cataract in his recovering eye, before a further operation to re-attach his retina sometime later, but when he did eventually return to the field with Dublin club St.Mary's, he revealed that opponents tried to gouge his right eye on two separate occassions.

"My eye was in a lot of pain because it took a beating," McKinley told Ray D'Arcy on RTE Radio 1 on Monday.

"Whether it be through rugby or just the four operations, there was a lot of heavy work on it. Not being able to see properly was difficult, but I also had two unsavoury incidents when I got back onto the field with my club team.

I had two gouging incidents in my good eye, and one I know was intentional. That left a bad imprint in the back of my mind."

McKinley eventually returned to rugby after a brief period studying and helping out with the Leinster Academy, where he did a bit of coaching and video analysis.

After some consultation with opticians Raleri, McKinley was able to return to play with the assistance of the company's World Rugby approved goggles, with McKinley securing a move to Udinese's Leonorso Udine in 2014, before further stints with Viadana, Zebre and current club Benetton Treviso.

After spending the last two seasons playing in the Pro 12, McKinley was called up to Conor O'Shea's extended Italian training squad for the Azzurri's summer Tests with Scotland, Fiji and Australia, after qualifying for Italy under the residency rule.

McKinley was one of 13 players cut by the former Ireland winger with teammate Tommaso Allan and Zebre fly-half Carlo Canna both preferred to the 27-year-old.

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