GAA Football

Conor McKenna: burning ambition to help Tyrone to another All Ireland senior title

Tyrone's Conor McKenna strides away from Mayo's Seamus Cunniffe in the Minor final at Croke Park on Sep 22 2013. Picture: Colm O'Reilly
Kevin Kelly

While admitting that he loves the lifestyle of a professional athlete, Conor McKenna has revealed that it is still a burning ambition of his to return home some day and help Tyrone win another All Ireland senior title.

McKenna was the leading light as Tyrone minors reached the All Ireland final five years ago but Aussie Rules came calling and the Eglish man now plies his trade with Essendon.

“It’s a dream come through to be a Professional athlete for how long it lasts and at the minute it is going well and I have another three years left on my contract and we will see what happens after that,” said Conor.

“I would love to come home at some stage and win an All Ireland. Obviously Tadhg Kennelly is the prime example winning a Premiership in Australia and then coming home the year after and winning a Sam Maguire with Kerry.

It always has and always will be an ambition of mine so I will see when my contract is over whether I come home or stay another few years and hopefully I will be still young enough when I do come home.”

Conor is currently home on an eight week break with the Aussie Rules season over and rumours were down the rounds that he was going to be a surprise inclusion in the Tyrone squad for the recent All Ireland final with Dublin.

“It was my last game on the season and we were playing Adelaide and about twenty minutes before the start I got a few messages from back home with boys sending me a screenshot of the newspaper article and it came as a bit of a shock to me too!”, admitted Conor.

“Naturally I would have loved to have been part of it if I was still at home playing football. I have the GAAgo app so I watched the Tyrone games on it and they did really well this year but came up against a superb Dublin side.

I have watched them (Dublin) a few times and they are so good at the way that they move the ball and are so good on the ball. They never seem to come under pressure even when falling behind by four points early on in the final. Nothing changes, they don’t panic. Someone is going to knock them off the top sometime and hopefully its Tyrone.”

Gaelic football has come in for criticism in some quarters about the way that teams play too defensive but Conor says that it is similar to Aussie Rules in that regard although he believes that sides will have to come up with something different if they are to topple Dublin.

“Everything is pretty similar, that is a massive thing in Aussie Rules as everyone has to get back and defend when you don’t have the ball,” he says.

“There are still plenty of good games in Gaelic football. The defensive system is probably for teams that aren’t as good as the likes of Dublin who are trying different ways to beat them but it’s not working at the minute and they are going to have to change it and maybe go fifteen on fifteen. Football at the minute can be hard to watch at times but that’s just the way it is at the moment.”

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