Essendon’s Irish defender Conor McKenna will head home to Ireland after the announcement of the AFL season being suspended on Sunday, as reported by AFL Media.
McKenna’s Irish teammates Ross McQuillan and Cian McBride, as well as Magpies pair Anton Tohill and Mark Keane, and Giant Callum Brown, are among the players who have returned to Ireland or expected to return immediately.
Despite this, a number of Irish players have chosen to remain in Australia. These include Geelong trio Zach Tuohy, Mark O’Connor and Stefan Okunbur, Gold Coast’s Pearce Hanley and St Kilda’s Darragh Joyce.
The tightening of worldwide travel restrictions, and the league being suspended until May 31, has seen a number of the competition’s foreign players weigh up their futures in recent days.
Players are able to train individually but will be unable to train as a club until at least the end of April, given that they are required to receive a month’s notice before the season can recommence.
A number of interstate players have also decided to return to their home state in the past few days.
Earlier in the week, Melbourne AFLW Irish pair Niamh McEvoy and Sinead Goldrick returned to their home country, missing the club’s semi-final victory of Greater Western Sydney. Carlton’s Joanne Doolan also returned.