CONOR McKenna has told teammates his AFL career is over.
The Bombers speedster informed the club on Tuesday morning that he would be returning to Ireland, with his retirement effective immediately.
It marks the end of a tumultuous season for McKenna who is the only AFL player who has tested positive to COVID-19.
He has played 79 games for Essendon since joining the club at the end of 2014, but has battled homesickness throughout his time in Australia.
McKenna has been open about his desires to head back to Ireland and play in the Gaelic competition, but was contracted to the end of 2021.
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However, he has played his last game despite being fit and available to feature in the Bombers' end to the season.
"I do really feel the time is now right for me to return home to Ireland," McKenna said.
"I've made no secret of the fact that at some point, I'd want to be returning home to my family and I've been weighing up the decision recently. It's been a difficult year for everyone, but it’s also been a chance to take stock and weigh up several things in my life, so the time is right.
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"I will always be grateful for Essendon’s support of both myself and my family since I arrived at the club from the other side of the world at the end of 2014."
The 24-year-old played six games this season, a broken hand adding to a rocky year.
He was hoping to spend this season playing as a forward after finishing in the top five of Essendon's best and fairest last season as an attacking half-back.
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McKenna, at his best, combined with Adam Saad to provide brilliant dashing run out of defence, at times giving a nod to his homeland and the Gaelic game with a 'solo' kick to himself.