AFL club Essendon have outlined that they are “really disappointed” in Conor McKenna after he lined out in a GAA game for his local side Eglish last weekend.
McKenna, who has been with the Melbourne-based club since 2014, scored a crucial second-half goal for Eglish as they maintained their Division 1 league status against Edendork in a relegation play-off on Saturday.
Despite his starring role, McKenna’s display was met with disappointment from Essendon coach John Worsfold who outlined that he wasn’t aware of the former Tyrone minor’s intention to play with Eglish and that it was a risk for him to take.
“That was something that we weren’t aware of,” he told SEN Radio. “We certainly didn’t send him back there to play footy.
“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.”
Worsfold continued by outlining that he will speak to McKenna when he returns to Australia and that they will talk through the risks that are involved in him playing a competitive game.
I’ve reflected on it,” he added. “I won’t speak to Conor until he gets back, and I will be disappointed that he played, and at least didn’t feel like he could have rung and just checked. He might have had a compelling argument.
“Out of everything you can do as a footballer in the off-season, going and playing non-contact football would be the best. It’s better than going snow-skiing or playing basketball or playing rugby, something you don’t do day in, day out.
“He went and did something that’s probably the safest form of exercise that he could possibly do, but he did it in a competitive environment.”