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'Mum was horrified by how blasé I was' | Ian McKinley's reaction to his gruesome eye injury

Ian McKinley was so in shock at his initial eye injury in 2010 that he appeared blasé in the hospital when he saw the extent of his damaged eye.



Former Leinster and Italy outhalf Ian McKinley was so in shock at his initial eye injury in 2010 that he appeared blasé in the hospital when he saw the extent of his damaged eye.

Growing up in Dublin, McKinley dreamed of putting on the blue of Leinster and the green of Ireland throughout his childhood. However, only one of those dreams would come true before his first, early retirement at the age of 21 in 2012.

The outhalf was injured in a match between his club side UCD, and Landsdowne in 2010. He was caught in the the eye by a stray stud off one of his teammate's boots, and was rushed to hospital shortly afterwards.

While he would eventually regain 70% of his vision, and even went on to play six professional games for Leinster, his vision would eventually go entirely in his left eye that would force him to retire in 2012.

However, he was given a new lease on life in Italy as a coach, before eventually figuring out a way to play rugby with specially made goggles. This lifeline would see him represent Italy nine times internationally, and saved him from a life of bitterness.

However, his initial reaction to injury when in the hospital was more shock than anything else.

McKinley's journey to hospital

Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby as part of the launch of his autobiography Second Sight, McKinley broke down his trip to St Vincent's Hospital, and the initial reaction to seeing what had happened to his eye.

"The reason I wanted to look at it, I'm fairly matter-of-fact," McKinley said. "Whether it is good or bad. I think the reaction from the other patients in Vincent's made me want to do it.

"There was shock in their faces. You can imagine, I'm there with my brother, he's got his arm wrapped around me. I've got the big rugby jacket. I've got my UCD kit on, I've still got my boots on, so it's clank, clank, clank across the floor.

"And, you just have these people turning and looking at you, or stopping what they are doing and looking at you. Obviously my eye is very cloudy now as time has gone on, but it was a heck of a lot worse, and out of it's socket and all that stuff.

"It was just that curiosity of making sure I knew what I was dealing with."

While he was not sure how to react to the sight of his exploded eye, McKinley was forced to let the severity of the injury settle in.

"My response, which I have put in the book, was very blasé," McKinley said. "Obviously mum, who was in the car as well because she'd come to pick us up, was sort of horrified by how blasé I was.

"Maybe that was because I was so young, you don't really appreciate the severity of what's happened."

'I really felt sorry for her'

The shock at his injury was not just reserved for family, friends and the patients of St Vincent's, however. McKinley recalled the reaction from the junior doctor that first saw to him at the hospital.

"When I saw the junior doctor, I really felt sorry for her," McKinley said. "She took one look and was like, 'I'll be back in a minute'.

"I think that shock turned into sadness when you are left alone and left with your own thoughts. You are talking about the suddenness of everything, you are suddenly now brought down to your knees.

"It was still dark, they hadn't turned on the lights or anything. You are literally sitting in the dark, wondering what is going on here. Everything happened so quickly."

McKinley explains his journey from a promising Leinster flyhalf to a second wind in Italy in Second Sight. It is in stores now.

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