Mark Keane after the Pies' loss to Gold Coast in round seven, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

COLLINGWOOD ticked off on Mark Keane heading back to Ireland last week three rounds before the end of its season.

The defender, whose long-term girlfriend still lives in Ireland, approached the club recently about the possibility of returning home before the end of the home and away season.

The Magpies approved the move, with Keane to be back in Australia before Christmas for Collingwood's pre-season campaign.

The 21-year-old played four games this season after making his AFL debut last year and is contracted for 2022. 

Mark Keane at Collingwood training on June 3, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

He missed the first two months of this year after injuring his finger tendon during pre-season training. 

Keane caught headlines last year after returning to Ireland in the post-season and being a hero for Gaelic club Cork with a late goal that pushed rivals Kerry out of the championship after being cleared by Collingwood to play in the game.

He made the move to the AFL in 2018 when he was signed as a category B rookie by the Magpies.