Essendon's Irish trio Cian McBride, Ross McQuillan and Conor McKenna. Picture: AFL Photos

THE REMAINING six players in Ireland will return to Australia this weekend to resume their AFL careers after winning visa approval to re-enter the country. 

EXPLAINER Everything you need to know about footy's restart

Collingwood pair Mark Keane and Anton Tohill, Essendon duo Cian McBride and Ross McQuillan, Brisbane's James Madden and Greater Western Sydney's Callum Brown are all set to jet back to Australia on Saturday.

The group headed back to Ireland once the AFL announced its shutdown plans in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.


They will all head straight into mandatory 14-day quarantine stints in hotels as part of the strict measures taken for international arrivals by the federal government. 

FOOTY'S BACK AFL confirms return date

Established Bombers defender Conor McKenna arrived back last weekend, but the 24-year-old is a permanent resident of Australia, unlike the rest of the Irish contingent who are subject to tighter border restrictions.

With the assistance of an independent immigration expert, the AFL, the players' clubs and the AFLPA collaborated to get the players back.

While AFL-listed players have been denied from playing state league football in 2020, the return of the remaining six Irishmen is a boost for their development inside club environments. 

STATE LEAGUE BAN Scratch matches an option for non-selected players

Collingwood football manager Geoff Walsh told the club was excited to get Keane and Tohill back.

"We've been working together with a few of those clubs who have the Irish boys over there," Walsh said.

"Our boys will be back on that flight and then they'll go into quarantine for two weeks obviously, but the good news is that they'll be here on the weekend.

"They'll be in there for two weeks and then they can rejoin the program, but they'll go straight to quarantine from when they land."

Other Irish players including Geelong's Zach Tuohy and Mark O'Connor, Hawthorn's Conor Glass and Conor Nash and Sydney's Colin O'Riordan opted not to return home during the season shutdown.