Ian McKinley retires from rugby for the second time

FORMER LEINSTER, ITALY and Benetton out-half Ian McKinley has confirmed his retirement from rugby. 

It’s the second time he’s retired from the game, following a horror eye injury he suffered at the age of 21 in 2011. He sustained a detached retina during an All-Ireland League game that caused him to lose sight in his left eye, forcing his first retirement. 

The Leinster Academy graduate moved to Italy to coach rugby before becoming the first player in the world to use specially-made rugby goggles, which protected his good eye and allowed him relaunch his career. 

The former Ireland U20 international signed with Benetton and qualified to play for Italy on the residency rules, making his debut agianst Fiji in 2017. McKinley moved back to Ireland last year after his four-year stint with Benetton ended and while he kept his options open for a potential return to the field, he’s now confirmed his retirement from all levels of rugby.

“Today, aged 31, I officially announce my second retirement from playing rugby at all levels of the game,” McKinley said in a statement on Instagram.

“My professional career has been unconventional.

“10 years ago, I was forced aged 21 to announce my retirement from Leinster and Ireland U20s, when my left eyeball was perforated and my retina detached, following a rugby injury.

“It was very hard to accept this decision.

“I moved to Udine in Italy to coach rugby. After three years an opportunity arose to become the first player in the world to use Rugby Goggles and play with protection for my good eye. This return led to a global campaign seeking access to play at the highest levels of rugby, albeit as a visually impaired, professional out-half.

“By helping to bring into law the worldwide use of Rugby Goggles, it has been an incredible joy to see thousands of other visually impaired players enabled to play rugby. This will always give me an enormous sense of achievement and pride.

“Following the Barbarians, Pro14, Champions Cup, Six Nations and International campaigns, today I get to finish my playing career again, but happily this time on my own terms.

“I want to sincerely thank all the teams, coaches and staff from school to international level that I have been a part of. I am deeply indebted to teams in Ireland such as St Columba’s College, UCD, St Mary’s College, Leinster Rugby and Ireland underage teams who nurtured and developed my early career. I am also particularly grateful to those in Italy who gave me a second chance – Leonorso, Viadana, Zebre, Benetton and of course the Italian national team.

“I also want to thank the rugby community in Ireland and Italy especially, who have been incredibly supportive in my playing journey from beginning to end. And to the teammates who have become friends for life.

“But mostly I’d like to thank my amazing wife, family and friends who have lifted me up in my darkest days and have supported me unconditionally throughout my playing career.

“I look forward to what the future holds.”

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Gavan Casey field listeners’ questions about Ireland’s victory over England before turning their attention to the club game, and Super Rugby in the Pacific Islands, prospective law trials up north and, of course, this weekend’s Pro14 final between old rivals.

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