Connor O’Shea has brought in a former Leinster player into the Italy squad for the tour to the Southern hemisphere in June. The team will play Australia, Scotland and Fiji.
No big surprise so far until you learn that Ian McKinley only has the use of one eye –
McKinley is a former captain of the Ireland U 20s and is the first international rugby player with this condition. The damage to his eye came in a game back in 2011.
He plays with protective goggles and it will be good to see him wearing an international shirt.
At Askeans we had a first team winger who was blind in one eye – Johnny Marshgreen. John didn’t wear any protection and there were many at the club who encouraged him to retire rather than take any risk.
John wouldn’t have any of it and I played alongside him for many seasons. Sadly he died back in 2005 and I wrote a few words about him in ‘Saying Goodbye to Good Friends’.
For a bloke with only one eye, Johnny was surprisingly aggressive both in attack and defence. He played on the right wing and I always assumed that his left eye was the good one – but knowing Askeans it might not have been. Anyway it never seemed to hinder him and he played better than many of us who were blessed with both ocular organs. If he’d taken up refereeing he would have been genuinely myopic!
There is more about him in that post – John was a good bloke and is much missed.
I found this team photo from a 1st XV floodlight fixture – Johnny is kneeling in the front row and wearing a headband
Les was skipper so it would have been in the early 70’s