John Worsfold told SEN Breakfast this week that Conor McKenna’s participation in a Division 1 playoff for Eglish St Patrick’s in Tyrone County in Ireland last weekend was “something we were not aware of. We certainly didn’t send him back there to play football.”
“I was really disappointed when I heard that,” said Worsfold.
“I’ve reflected on it and I won’t speak to Conor until he gets back and I will be disappointed that he played and didn’t feel like he could have rung and checked.”
McKenna kicked a field goal in his former Gaelic football club’s narrow 2-9 (15) to 1-10 (13) win over Edendork, with Worsfold admitting it was part of “a non-contact environment.”
“Out of everything you can do as a footballer in the off-season, going and playing non-contact football would be the best,” Worsfold said.
“It’s better than going snow skiing or playing basketball or playing rugby, something you don’t do day in and day out.
“(Essendon Head of Football) Dan Richardson would have spoken to Conor or at least to his management. When he gets back we will just talk through why it isn’t appropriate and the risk that you are taking.
“In terms of physical risks, I’m pretty comfortable he wasn’t putting himself in massive danger,” said Worsfold in comparison with previous off-season injuries to Charlie Curnow (from basketball) and Ollie Wines (wake-boarding).
The 23-year-old, 73-game McKenna – who played 22 games in 2019 and finished fourth in Essendon’s best and fairest – isn’t the only Irishman to quietly play Gaelic football between AFL seasons.
However, Worsfold did concede “it puts them at risk of an injury, of doing something that is outside their contract, so in effect it puts them at risk of costing themselves a contract or a lot of money if they get a serious injury.”