McKinley touched by rapturous recpetion on RDS return

The former Leinster out-half had to retire in 2011 following an eye injury before making a comeback

McKinley touched by rapturous recpetion on RDS return

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan 

Five years after retiring from the game, former Leinster fly-half Ian McKinley lined out in the RDS once again for Benetton Treviso in their Pro12 clash last night, arriving into the game to a tremendous reception from both sets of fans. 

The ex-Columbas College schoolboy was forced to retire from the game due to losing sight in his left eye, just as he was making a name for himself at provincial level, before upping sticks and moving to Italy as a coach. 

However, a journey back into the game was provided thanks to Raleri's protective goggles, meaning that McKinley could once again play at the lower levels, with his performances garnering the attention of perennial Pro12 strugglers Zebre last season, before moving to Treviso for this season. 

His path back to the professional game has been anything but easy, with international governing bodies, including the IRFU, only lifting the ban on playing with protective goggles in recent times following a lengthy battle. 

It all built up to this moment though, and it was one that McKinley was keen to savour.

"When I came on and heard that it was hard to concentrate on the next phase of play, thank you very much to everyone for that," he said. 

"I just hope when I was here I left something positive and hopefully now with my new club I can do the same thing," he added. 

Ian McKinley of Treviso in action at the RDS
©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

He was also quick to thank his friends and family who he says were there to support him even when he was playing in the lowest levels of Italian rugby. 

"My fiancee, my brothers and sisters, my mum and dad, basically everyone, my closest friends (were at the game).

"They've been with me from the harder days when I had to stop and they've been with me pushing through the campaign for the goggles, been at the lower league Italian games when there was a man and a dog at it in the rain in Italy."