It has been reported that Essendon's Conor McKenna has temporarily departed Australia as the Tyrone native returns home to 'be with his family,' according to a statement released on the club's official website.
An All-Ireland finalist with Tyrone's minor footballers in 2012, Conor McKenna had been of immense interest to AFL clubs from as early as 2013.
In late 2014, it was announced that the Eglish man would be signing for Essendon as a defender. However, according to interviews McKenna himself has given during his time Down Under, the issue of homesickness has been prevalent throughout.
"I still struggle a wee bit with homesickness and stuff like that," he remarked in an interview with the AFL's official website in 2019 after he had returned home for his brother's wedding. "I was very happy to be home for a week."
Although it is expected that Conor McKenna will return to Australia in time for Essendon's opening Marsh Community Series match against West Coast on February 27, it would appear that the Tyrone native is having some issues adapting to life in the AFL.
In a statement released by the club, Essendon's Dan Richardson said the 23-year-old had the club’s full support to return to Ireland.
"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," he said. "We remain in constant communication with both Conor and his family and we will continue to provide our support during this period."
It as yet remains unclear what the Tyrone native's plans are beyond this juncture and his return home.