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McKenna's return from Australia is another boost for Red Hands

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Conor McKenna

Conor McKenna

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Conor McKenna

You wait years for a tasty story, such as a bit of conflict between Australian Rules Football and Tyrone GAA, and two of them arrive in the same week.

Less than two days after Red Hands hotshot Cathal McShane finally returned to the county team after considering a move to the AFL and Adelaide Crows, Conor McKenna of Essendon Bombers announced he is on his way home to Eglish.

So advanced is the situation that the club themselves released a statement about a player who has been a success at the Bombers and greatly appreciated by the fanbase.

The statement noted that general manager of football Dan Richardson had said the 23-year-old had the club's full support to return to his native country.

"We have been in lengthy discussions with Conor over recent weeks and we are completely supportive of him returning home to be with his family at this time," Richardson said.

"We remain in constant communication with both Conor and his family and we will continue to provide our support during this period."

You can't help but wonder just what kind of effect that now infamous relegation play-off between Eglish and Edendork last November, in which he played, had on him.

Likewise the conversations he had with McShane in recent weeks. As he was advising McShane that his life may be better in Tyrone, the news came that McShane was being set up in a new career. That would have piqued McKenna's curiosity and stirred up a homesickness.

McKenna is a product of his environment. His family are steeped in the GAA and in Eglish, his mother Sheila having been a renowned camogie player.

"I still suffer a bit with homesickness," he said in December.

"I've always been a home bird and the first couple of years were pretty tough, not really knowing if you want to go back at the end of the year and still kind of struggling to go back.

"The club realise that I've probably struggled with homesickness for the last five years and will probably always struggle with it, it's just something I'm dealing with and trying to make it easier."

If he's home for good, then Tyrone's chances of success will greatly improve. At just 23 and with several years of professional-standard physical preparation behind him in the gym, the chances are that he won't take long to get back into the swing of Gaelic football.

Belfast Telegraph