Tyrone star McKenna all set for Aussie Rules debut
Former Tyrone GAA star Conor McKenna is to make his AFL debut for Essendon this weekend.
The 19-year-old has been elevated to the club’s senior side for the clash with Richmond at the MCG in Melbourne.
Less than a year after joining the club, McKenna has made a huge impact, and a string of outstanding performances in the VFL has fast-tracked his rise to the senior stage.
The Eglish clubman passed up the promise of a sparkling career in gaelic football to pursues his dream of becoming a professional sportsman.
He had already been promoted to Mickey Harte’s senior squad at the age of 18 following a three-year career with the county minor side, inspiring the Red Hands to the All-Ireland final in 2013, which they lost to Mayo.
His parents will fly to Melbourne this weekend to watch his debut.
“The coach took me in after training and said congratulations, you’re playing against Richmond this weekend,” said McKenna on the club’s website.
He paid tribute to coaches Paul Corrigan and Harry Corrigan for the faith shown in him and for the support and advice which have helped him reach the top level in Australian Rules football.
“We do early sessions in the morning most days, and when I went in the forwards, Harry has helped me out there, so both Corrigans have been good to me.”
And he admitted he has found it difficult to master certain aspects of the Aussie Rules game.
“The defence was not too bad, but then I went to the forwards, and the structures of the game was hard to get used to, but hopefully I’ll get it right come Saturday.”
McKenna is hoping to do enough during his initial two year term at the club to secure a future in the AFL and reach the top.
“I’ll be here for two years anyway, and if all goes well, I’ll be here for another while.”
Development Coach Paul Corrigan said McKenna’s dedication and hard work have helped him carve out an exciting opportunity.
“I think it’s great reward for the hard work he has put in, he has obviously crammed a lot in in the time he has been here.
“He does more sessions than anyone else, he never misses a beat,” said Corrigan.