Ian Mc Kinley – Back from the Brink
The name Ian Mc Kinley may not ring a bell with many rugby fans but he was part of the Leinster squad in 2010 when he suffered an eye injury that would change the course of his life both sporting and everyday life.
He was playing for UCD against Lansdowne when a stray boot connected with his left eye and he lost the sight in his eye. This injury didn’t just slow down his sporting career, it had a major impact on his everyday life. He couldn’t drive, he had trouble doing jobs around the house. He also couldn’t catch a ball while training. He did regain 70% of his sight but after 18 months he lost all of the sight in his left eye.
Ian then decided with the help of his brother to look into how he could continue playing the sport he loves. He got in touch with The National College of Art and Design and Medical Device Design. He was then put in touch with John Merrigan who produced the goggles in conjunction with Enda O Dowd.
In January 2014, World Rugby began to trial them and Ian has been able to continue playing the sport he loves thanks to these specially designed goggles. He managed to get back playing in the Professional game with Italian side Zebre and is part of their squad that plays in the Pro 12 and the European Challenge Cup. He has done incrediably well to fight his way back to full fitness and these goggles have given Ian the chance to continue to play sport.
The IRFU have of course stopped Ian from playing on these shores and banned the use of the goggles from all grades of Rugby in this country. The IRFU has said it is not happy to insure people that use them and also the safety of the user of the goggles and also his or her opponent.
From a personal point of view I would call on the IRFU to reconsider their decision and let every person no matter what their personal circumstance play the sport they want to. Ian Mc Kinley was on the fringes of the Leinster squad when this injury happened, who knows how things may have turned out if he hadn’t suffered this injury. The injury happened in Ireland and yet after he turned things around, He was then brought in as a permit player by Zebre to cover for players that were away at the World Cup. As far as I am aware I can’t see the harm in these goggles and I would like to help Ian get this decision overturned. Ian Mc Kinley truly is a man that came back from the brink.
Cian Mc Gibney