All Ireland Final Diary: Tyrone’s Conor McKenna May Join AFL ‘Vets’ Who Lifted Sam
Conor McKenna is hoping to join a very select crew as the fourth Irishman to have played in the AFL and then returned home to win an All-Ireland SFC medal.
The pioneering line is Dermot McNicholl (who played three games for St Kilda before stepping off the bench to help Derry lift Sam for the only time in 1993); Brian Stynes (who played twice for Melbourne before propelling Dublin over the line in 95); and Tadhg Kennelly (who played 197 times for the Sydney Swans on either side of his stunning All-Star gap year with Kerry in 2009).
McKenna, a two-goal Tyrone hero in his semifinal victory over Kerry, ended his AFL career after making 79 appearances for Essendon. Speaking of Kerry, Tommy Walsh is not included in this group as his All-Ireland medal (also in 2009) came before his move to oval play.
And to avoid other email senders, Anthony Tohill from Derry, Michael Shields from Cork and multiple Dublin Celtic Cross winner Ciarán Kilkenny are also not listed as they have not played any AFL games. during their short-lived football adventures.
The heroic O’Connor loves “lost causes”
If Mayo finally exorcises their demons from all over Ireland, an exceptional play will be forever remembered as a defining moment. And it wasn’t even in the final.
Diarmuid O’Connor’s acrobatic volley, with his team behind Dublin five minutes and 63 minutes passed, prevented a wide and maintained the movement which resulted in Kevin McLoughlin’s point.
Yet, according to his comrade Stephen Coen, it was not unique. “If you focus on his entire career with Mayo, you’ll find loads of those moments.
“He’s such a selfless player, he will never give up on anything and that’s why he’s been so successful… he will never give up on lost causes and I hope everyone follows in his footsteps.”
The lowest attendance since the iconic decision maker in 1947
If you ignore the bizarre case of last December because no fans were allowed, this year’s decider will have the lowest participation in an All-Ireland SFC final since 1947.
This year’s iconic Cavan-Kerry coin drew 34,491 at Polo Grounds, New York, while Croke Park’s capacity this Saturday is limited to 41,150 due to Covid restrictions.
7 – The number of survivors of the 2013 All-Ireland MFC Final who saw playing time in this year’s senior semi-final epics: Michael Plunkett, Stephen Coen, Diarmuid O’Connor and Conor Loftus for Mayo; Frank Burns, Conor McKenna and Cathal McShane for Tyrone.