The Bombers’ Irish dasher opened up on Monday night about a highly-eventful year in which he returned to Ireland in February after battling homesickness and then missed an Essendon match after being forced into quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test.
He did not however address the weekend taunt from North Melbourne’s Luke McDonald, who has since apologised to McKenna for covering his mouth, mocking McKenna’s recent diagnosis. The AFL has cleared McDonald after looking into the incident.
McKenna, 24, is contracted for the 2021 season but says that he remains a year-to-year proposition. He has made no secret of his long-term plans to return to Gaelic football and last November played a relegation playoff match for Irish team Eglish without the Bombers’ knowledge.
He confirmed he was no certainty to be at Essendon in 2021.
“At the end of every season I make the decision about whether to go back or not, if it’s worth my while,” McKenna told the Teamtalkmag Tyrone Facebook page in a video interview from the Bombers’ Queensland hub.
“I’ll do the same thing at the end of this season. Take my time, make the decision come Christmas if I want to go back.”
McKenna was full of praise for the way the Bombers had treated him, detailing how the Dons had allowed him to miss one training session a week to instead train with a local Gaelic football team alongside his brother Ryan.
“The club’s been really good. They’re very supportive.”
He said that things came to a head in February when he was overcome by emotion while training at the Bombers. That in turn led to him returning to Ireland for a couple of weeks.
“One day I started to break down a bit at training and it just became too much,” he said.
McKenna said he remained in the dark about just how he came to test positive for the virus, querying whether he had picked up the disease while back in Ireland during the AFL’s hiatus earlier in the year.
“I still really don’t know what happened to be honest. Apparently it was a false positive, whatever that means,” he said.
“I got [blood tests] done, that showed up that I maybe had it six weeks ago when I was in Ireland.
“They’re still not sure whether I had it 10 weeks ago in Ireland after a flight or whether I had it three weeks ago.”
McKenna said his finger was broken in the third quarter of the North match but that he wasn’t sure how it happened.
Essendon are yet to formally rule McKenna out.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter