Tyrone man Conor McKenna to make Aussie Rules debut

Conor McKenna
Conor McKenna signed for Melbourne club Essendon last October

Former Tyrone minor footballer Conor McKenna will make his senior debut for Australian Football League club Essendon on Saturday.

McKenna, 19, signed a two-year contract with the AFL club last October and has made impressive progress since then.

"It's great reward for the hard work he's put in," said Essendon's development coach Paul Corrigan.

"He's obviously crammed a lot in the time that he's been here. He does more sessions than anyone else."

McKenna, who is from the village of Eglish near Dungannon, has played 15 games for the Melbourne club's second string in the Victorian Football League this season and kicked 18 goals.

"The coach took me in yesterday about three o'clock after training," McKenna told the Essendon website.

"Cora, who has been working with me all year, he just said 'congratulations, you're playing against Richmond this week'.

Conor McKenna of Tyrone celebrates scoring his side's first goal in the 2013 All-Ireland Minor Championship semi-final win over Roscommon
Conor McKenna of Tyrone celebrates scoring his side's first goal in the 2013 All-Ireland Minor Championship semi-final win over Roscommon

"It's just good to get a role now."

McKenna grew up playing Gaelic football in Ireland and has spent extra time with Essendon's development coaches learning the finer points of the game.

"In defence, it was not too bad, but then I went forward and the structure of the game is just hard to get used to but hopefully I'll get it right now and come Saturday it'll come to plan," he said.

McKenna's parents will fly out from Tyrone to attend Saturday night's match.

Last summer Tyrone minors star McKenna was promoted to Mickey Harte's senior panel with the county's management hoping the elevation would persuade him to stay in GAA.

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