AAP AFL

Irish AFL players weigh shut out risk

By AAP Newswire

Cancelled flights, visa complications and wage cuts are just three of the issues facing Irish players in the AFL during the coronavirus crisis.

Essendon defender Conor McKenna and Collingwood duo Mark Keane and Anton Tohill are among those to have flown home to Ireland following the suspension of the AFL season on Sunday, along with AFLW players Niamh McEvoy and Sinead Goldrick.

With borders closing, it may now be difficult for the Irish contingent to return to Australia in the immediate future, casting doubt over whether Bombers star McKenna, who was given leave by the club to spend extra time in Ireland after Christmas due to homesickness, will ever return to the AFL.

Hawthorn forward Conor Nash has decided to remain in Australia, while his Hawks teammate Conor Glass will also remain after his flights to Ireland were cancelled.

Nash, 21, decided to stay in Victoria due to concerns over the difficulty of getting back into Australia in time for a competition resumption should he fly home to the east coast of Ireland.

"They are looking to get the competition going again on 31 May, but that's the best-case scenario," Nash told Irish radio station 2FM.

"I'm going to stay and be ready to go when we do get back training. Conor Glass was going to head home but his flights were cancelled. It's just very hard to get home, so he's staying put as well.

"I have had a bit of trouble with visas and that, so if things were to get going again and I was back home in Ireland, it would take time for me to get back. I would not enjoy that at all. My family are happy for me to stay out here."

Nash says there are hard times ahead for everybody after the decision to halt the season, which was announced mid-game during Hawthorn's 28-point victory over Brisbane.

"We need to get games played, even behind closed doors, which would bring some money in to keep some clubs going.

"There is talk of 70 to 75 per cent pay cuts for players. A lot of clubs have let staff go. It won't be easy but if it sees the game surviving past this year, then it has to be done."