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Ian McKinley will play for the Barbarians four years after losing sight in one eye

It has been an incredible journey for the out-half since a freak injury in 2011.

HAVING COMPLETED A remarkable recovery from losing the sight in one eye and being forced to retire from a promising career with Leinster, Ian McKinley is set to wear the famous Barbarians jersey tomorrow.

The out-half called time on his burgeoning career in 2011 following a freak training-ground accident in 2010 when a teammate’s stud caught McKinley’s eye.

Ian McKinley McKinley has long been a gifted out-half. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The former St. Columba’s student did make a return for Leinster, but eventually had to retire after the retina in his left eye detached and a series of operations failed to remedy the problem.

McKinley’s incredible return to rugby began with Italian Serie C side Leonorso, the youngster having moved to Italy to take up a coaching role in Udine. Wearing a pair of specifically-built Raleri goggles to protect his eyes, McKinley’s form was sensational.

His performances captured the attention of Viadana in Italian rugby’s top flight, and McKinley signed professional terms with the club last summer.

The former Ireland U20 international has gone on to make 16 starts for Viadana so far this season, scoring four tries, 24 penalties, 19 conversions and one drop goal. 14 of his starts have been at out-half for Viadana, who lie sixth in the National Championship of Excellence, while McKinley has also played at inside centre twice.

McKinley will tomorrow make his first rugby appearance in the UK since losing the sight in his left eye, when he lines out for the Barbarians in their clash with Heriot’s at Goldenacre in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Source: Raleri s.r.l./YouTube

McKinley is part of a Barbarians squad head coached by Sean Lineen and also featuring Scotland internationals Kieran Low, Grayson Hart, Gordon Ross, Bruce Douglas and Scott MacLeod.

USA prop Titi Lamositele, Fiji centre Sireli Naqelevuki  and Canadian fullback James Pritchard also feature for the Baabaas in a game that marks Heriot’s 125th anniversary

Speaking to Will Slattery of The42 in January, McKinley said: “I want to focus on what I can become now, not what I was. If I’m good enough, I’d like to see what the next level might hold.”

His progress since has been a credit to both his determination and his talent for rugby.

‘You need 2 eyes to play but I seem to be doing okay with just one’ – Ian McKinley’s rugby return

Letter from Marseille: Leinster exit as French power prevails in Europe

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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