Ray Connellan is to return to Ireland after his departure from AFL side Essendon was confirmed.
The Westmeath forward left for St. Kilda in 2016, spending two seasons there before being picked up by Essendon in August of 2018. The Melbourne-based club confirmed it was Connellan's decision to return home. They say the 24-year old will play gaelic football while also focusing on his studies.
Essendon's VFL (Victorian Football League) coach, Dan Jordan says despite his brief tenure Connellan will be missed by all at the club, "In the short time Ray was part of our program he was a great guy and fun to be around, but also set some really good standards with his hard work on the track.
“He’s a lightning-quick, really exciting player and hadn’t played a lot of back or wing in the last couple of years at St Kilda so we wanted to give him that opportunity and watch him grow.
“He was getting to a nice level and then had his hamstring (injury) which forced him out for four or five weeks. He came back for the last couple of games and was just starting to find his feet again but clearly mentally his heart was somewhere else.
“Having said that we all saw a glimpse of what he can bring and the attributes that he has. He’s a phenomenal athlete and we wish him all the best.”
Connellan only amassed four games for Essendon in the state-level VFL this term, averaging 15.3 disposals and 4.8 marks.
Westmeath are still alive in the All Ireland Senior Football Championship, but it's not known if Connellan can, or wants to, work his way back into Jack Cooney's planning this summer. The Lake County are due to play Limerick in the second round of the All Ireland qualifiers on June 22.
Connellan admits his time in Aussie Rules is over, but he loved every minute and thanked Essendon for the past 12-months.
One of the nicest environments I’ve ever played football in! Thank you everyone at @essendonvfl. Not an easy decision for me to make but I felt it was the right time. My Aussie Rules Journey is over but I’ve loved every minute! What a game! https://t.co/877g3Mb1u1
— Ray Connellan (@ConnellanRay) June 17, 2019