Former Essendon defender Conor McKenna has been linked with a potential AFL comeback after returning to his home nation of Ireland two years ago, with Geelong reported as being among the clubs showing interest in the 26-year-old.
McKenna last played in Round 12 of the 2020 season, his 79th game for the Bombers after arriving from Ireland through the Rookie Draft in 2014.
The Tyrone-born flanker hung up the boots in September of his sixth season at Essendon following a well-documented battle with homesickness, leaving Australia immediately.
Only months after returning to the Emerald Isle, McKenna revealed the flame of his AFL career hasn't been extinguished, hinting at a potential return in late 2020.
“I do think the possibility may be there in three or four years with Gaelic, the way they’re talking about a split season, if Tyrone was out and the club was out of the championship and there was a possibility of going over for two or three months, it’s not something I’d close the door on," he said in an interview.
Now, according to Irish News journalist Cahair O'Kane, McKenna is destined for an AFL return, having reportedly informed his Gaelic club Tyrone of his decision to make the switch to play down under.
Conor McKenna looks set for a shock return to the AFL. Has informed the Tyrone setup over the weekend of his intention to go back to Australia, having returned to Ireland in late 2020 and helped Tyrone win the All-Ireland in '21. Big blow for Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan.
— Cahair O'Kane (@CahairOKane1) August 28, 2022
Any @AFL clubs need a half back?
— Conor Mckenna (@CMckenna7) September 14, 2021
McKenna enjoyed a career-best campaign in 2019 when he averaged 20.91 disposals, 4.86 rebounds 50s and 2.36 inside 50s as a dashing defender for the Dons.
With a return on the cards, AFL clubs are sure to begin lining up for McKenna's services, with Geelong reportedly showing some level of interest in the ex-Bomber, according to AFL.com.au's Cal Twomey.
The Cats have been held a strong Irish link in recent years, currently home to Zach Tuohy and Mark O'Connor, while Stefan Okunbor was cut from their list at the end of last year.
Geelong among clubs linked to former Bomber Conor McKenna, who looks headed back to the AFL after returning to Ireland in 2020. McKenna set to quit his Gaelic club Tyrone. @AFLcomau
— Callum Twomey (@CalTwomey) August 28, 2022
Geelong had also signed highly-rated Gaelic star Oisin Mullin ahead of the 2022 season, however, his move to Australia was cut short after it was revealed he held a preference to remain in Ireland.
Having retired over 18 months ago, McKenna will be available through the National and Rookie Draft mechanisms, as well as the Supplemental Selection Period (SSP).