Conor McKenna has expressed zero regrets over lining out for his club Eglish in a relegation playoff two weeks ago.
The former Tyrone underage star has been under contract with AFL side Essendon since 2014 and has firmly established himself in the club’s first-team squad.
However, upon his return to Ireland, McKenna scored a goal for his club as they staved off relegation from Division 1 of the All-County Tyrone League much to the disappointment of his coaches down under.
“I was really disappointed when I heard that. We know that he’s passionate about his Gaelic footy, he’s passionate about footy. He’s an energetic young man, his personality is so up and about. I can imagine them saying, ‘Do you want to have a kick?’
“It puts them [Irish AFL players who play GAA] at risk of an injury, of doing something that’s outside their contract. In effect, it puts them at high risk of costing themselves a contract or a lot of money if they get a serious injury.”
However, the former Tyrone minor has now responded.
Speaking to Michael Verney of the Irish Independent, McKenna outlined that he felt like he owed something back to the club.
“The club is where you came from and that’s what brought you up and I wouldn’t really be in the position that I am in with the AFL unless it was for them and for the county,” McKenna said.
“You feel like you owe them and I do owe them everything for what they have done for me. I came home before and sat there and watched them and it’s a very hard thing to do, so I came home and they had a relegation battle and I decided to play.”
McKenna also stated that he believes the club will be understanding of his situation once he returns to Australia.
“I haven’t really talked to the club much about it, I’ll talk to them when I go back. That was the decision I made so I’ll go back and see what the consequences are.
“They know how much I miss home and how much Gaelic and home mean to me so I think they’ll be pretty understanding.”