And here is another from the Irish Mirror where he reflects on his experience playing AFL and his future plans:
Conor McKenna lighting up AFL but still holds Red Hand dream
McKenna is one of a dozen or so Irish players on the books of Australian Football League clubs and is among the standout exports
00:00, 28 SEP 2017UPDATED11:47, 28 SEP 2017
Conor McKenna’s AFL career continues to go from strength to strength - but the dream of a Red Hand on his chest still burns.
McKenna is one of a dozen or so Irish players on the books of Australian Football League clubs and is among the standout exports, having made his full Essendon debut within a year of signing for the club.
He has since gone on to become a regular and has just signed a new four-year contract with the club.
The 21-year-old explained: “I started last year more than the first year and it gets a bit easier when you get used to the lifestyle, just being away from your family and friends, rather than the game itself you know.
“I said I would never leave unless I played one game. That’s what was going on in my head for that.
“Probably surprised myself a bit this year,” he admitted. “I give myself a target of maybe 10 games this year and I’ve played 19 so I would say better than what I thought, but sure I always had a bit of belief in myself, it was to try and get a bit of consistency.
Conor McKenna (Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan)
“Just to know that you are there for the right reasons in the back of your head. When you are playing AFL that’s what you are there for.”
McKenna is the exception to the rule in that most Irish recruits return home without breaking into the first team but he wouldn’t hesitate in telling someone to take on the challenge.
“The reason I wanted to go is if I didn’t go I would probably regret it for the rest of my life I’d say.
“I said if I went, and went at it for a year, and hated it, I’d come home, but at least I wanted to try it. I am happy out at the minute.
“If any young fella asked me should he go, I’d tell him, ‘Go.’
“I suppose that’s my opinion. Just, it’s a professional sport, you can devote your whole life to it, whereas with Gaelic you are working, you are playing for your club, you are playing for your county.
“It is a bit crazy. The training that some of them county teams are doing is up there with the training we are doing, and we are professional athletes as they say.
“It’s just the professionalism. It’s unbelievable.”
Missing out on Tyrone’s All-Ireland under-21 success two years ago was difficult to swallow, he says, but he plans on emulating the likes of Marty Clarke and Tadhg Kennelly in returning home to play for the senior team.
“Ah yeah, at some stage I do hope to come home and play for my club and my county.
“At the minute I am happy there and I’ll see after four years what happens. I’ll stay for as long as I can, I think.
“I haven’t really thought about it too much. I know in my head that I do want at some stage to come home and play for Tyrone and give it a crack.
“But, whether that is come home and stay and play for three or four years or go home, play one year and go back out, I don’t know.
“Definitely it’s in the back of my head.”
In case you are wondering what the Red Hand dream is:
You will see this logo on Conor’s white GAA Tyrone jersey above. Their nickname is the Red Hands.