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ESSENDON has won the race to sign Gaelic football star Conor McKenna.

The Bombers announced on Friday they had secured the Irishman to a two-year deal as a Category B rookie.

The 18-year-old attracted interest from several AFL clubs even before he had touched a Sherrin, when he was spotted by the Bombers at a talent combine in Ireland last December.

In his first game in a combined Irish-Australian side, the 184cm midfielder booted four goals and was among the best afield.

Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro said McKenna boasted unharnessed talent and was an exciting pick-up.

“We are thrilled Conor has taken the opportunity to join the Essendon Football Club under our alternative talent program,” Dodoro said.

“We were one of two clubs to attend the Irish Combine in December last year and we were immediately impressed with Conor’s talents.

"He has exceptional speed and endurance and he has a strong desire to become a professional footballer.

“His athletic profile is elite and while there is a long way to go, we really feel that Conor has the attributes to become a successful AFL player.”

McKenna becomes Essendon's second Category B rookie after champion 800m runner Johnny Rayner was added last year.

Twitter: @TravKing_AFL