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AFL star Conor McKenna returns to Tyrone indefinitely


Conor McKenna. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Conor McKenna. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Getty Images

Conor McKenna. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images

AFL star Conor McKenna has left Australia just weeks before the 2020 season commences with Essendon stating that the 23-year-old has returned to Ireland indefinitely "due to homesickness and family-related reasons".

The Tyrone native was one of the brightest prospects in the county having helped the Red Hand reach the All-Ireland minor decider in 2013 but he has been a regular with the Bombers since heading Down Under in October of 2014.

McKenna could miss the start of the AFL season, however, as he has returned home with his club offering him their "full support" as they remain "in constant communication" with a player contracted until the end of 2021.

"We have been in lengthy discussions with Conor over recent weeks and we are completely supportive of him returning home to be with his family at this time," Essendon's general manager of football Dan Richardson said.

"We remain in constant communication with Conor and his family and will continue to provide our support during this time."

McKenna has been very open about his struggles with being away from Ireland in the past and having returned home to Eglish as recently as Christmas when in the middle of pre-season training, McKenna is back in Ireland once again.

He got into hot water with the Melbourne-based side last November when he played for Eglish on a visit home, scoring a goal to help them maintain their Division 1 status in a relegation play-off.

With All-Star full-forward Cathal McShane deciding to turn down an offer form the Adelaide Crows and commit his future to Tyrone, optimism is high in the county that McKenna may do likewise and join Mickey Harte's squad.

"I'm happy to play in Australia but always the end goal is hopefully I can win a Premiership and then eventually, I don't know if it's going to be in the next couple of years or five years, but to come home and play for Eglish and Tyrone at some stage," McKenna said recently.

Irish Independent