What has been a good week for Tyrone football could be about to get even better as reports emerged that former underage star Conor McKenna had returned home just a month before the AFL season is about to get underway.
Just last week, All-Star Cathal McShane announced that he would not be taking up a contract offer with Adelaide after securing a job and on Sunday, he was introduced for a cameo role as Tyrone defeated Kerry in the National League.
McKenna was the shining light as the Red Hand minors reached the 2013 All-Ireland final but he was snapped up by Essendon the following year.
He quickly made the transition to a new code, his ball skills and electric speed marking him out as an elite counter-attacking half-back for the Bombers.
He signed a four-year contract extension in 2017 but has always struggled with homesickness and spoken about always being drawn home.
The 23-year-old missed a game last year as he returned home for his brother’s wedding, while his decision to play for Eglish while on his off-season holidays did not go down well with Essendon head coach John Worsfold.
He is considered a vital member of the team however and has been an ever-present for some time.
Now, as preparations step up for the commencement of a new campaign, McKenna is back in Ireland for an indefinite period.
“Essendon defender Conor McKenna has returned to his homeland of Ireland due to homesickness and family-related reasons,” confirmed the Bombers in a statement.
“General manager of football Dan Richardson said the 23-year-old had the club’s full support to return to his native country.”
“‘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,” Richardson said.
“‘We remain in constant communication with both Conor and his family and we will continue to provide our support during this period.”