Former Leinster outhalf Ian McKinley to complete incredible comeback story

Ian McKinley will start in the 10 jersey for Zebre on Sunday

BY Chris Jordan 13:43 Sunday 28 February 2016, 13:43 28 Feb 2016

Credit ©INPHO/Francesca Soli

In a remarkable turn around in fortunes, Ian McKinley will line out on Irish soil four years after retiring due to a freak injury sustained playing AIL rugby.

The former Leinster academy prospect will line-out against his former employers following major progress made by the IRFU and World Rugby in recent months. 

McKinley was left partially sighted following a seemingly innocuous incident while playing for UCD against Lansdowne, with a stray boot from an opponent causing severe damage, detaching his retina from his eye. 

The ex-Irish u-20 international did manage to continue his career for a short period, putting in a handful of impressive performances for Leinster in a fledgling career, but his health eventually caught up with him after leaving a Leinster development game with blurred vision. 

Source: Youtube/leinsterfans

On doctors' advice, and upon further reflection, McKinley decided the best course of action was to retire, aged just 21, previously stating that; "I'd give anything to go back - but not my right eye."

It was a sad situation for a burgeoning talent, but today he is afforded the opportunity to line out once more in the RDS following a series of trials that give McKinley the necessary protection over his eyes. 

McKinley's eyes are covered by protective goggles while he plays, which were recently approved by World Rugby following extensive trials and plenty of rules and stipulations. 

In more recent times, the IRFU took part in the trial, ending their ban on the goggles, meaning the outhalf is once again free to play on these shores. 

In recent years McKinley has spent his time in Italy, playing in the lower leagues before being signing professionally with Viadana, a top team in the National Championship of Excellence. 

Following a string of impressive performances, Zebre perked their heads up and took notice, and he even managed to turn out for the Barbarians in 2015

Source: Youtube/Viadana Fan

Originally signed as a permit play by the perennial Italian strugglers, the now 26 year old showed some of the form that promised much during his earlier playing days, making his debut as a second half substitute against the Scarlets in October. 

Today he is set to be given his full debut in what has been an extraordinary turn around in fortunes for the player. 


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