Lions lure Irishman McKenna to AFL club

The Brisbane Lions' productive off-season has got even better with former Essendon speedster Conor McKenna choosing the AFL premiership contenders.

After landing Hawthorn premiership forward Jack Gunston and Western Bulldogs star Josh Dunkley during the trade period, the Lions will bring McKenna out of retirement.

McKenna called it quits from the AFL at the end of 2020, returning to Ireland after 79 games for the Bombers.

But the 26-year-old will again leave Gaelic football, opting to join the Lions after also weighing up a return to Essendon and moves to St Kilda and Port Adelaide.

"We see Conor being a player who further improves our list, particularly as he adds both run and speed," Lions football boss Danny Daly said.

"He showed in his time at Essendon that one of his strengths is that he can play at both ends of the ground, and he can also win plenty of the ball.

"We look forward to Conor putting in a solid pre-season and helping us go that next step in 2023."

McKenna said he was "delighted" to be joining the Lions as the club moves to state-of-the-art headquarters at Springfield.

"I wanted to come back to a club that was playing deep into finals pushing for a premiership and Brisbane have been doing that for the last number of years," McKenna said.

"The club has been great for both myself and my partner Amy in making us feel comfortable and putting foundations in place to make sure the move out goes as smooth as possible."

Along with recruiting Gunston, Dunkley and McKenna, the Lions will secure star father-son nominee Will Ashcroft in this month's AFL draft.

Ashcroft has been hyped as the best player in this year's draft but will head to the Lions due to his father Marcus playing 318 games for the club.

The Lions played finals for a fourth-straight season this year but were thrashed by eventual premiers Geelong in the preliminary final.

They have not played in a grand final since 2004 and next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the last of their three-straight premierships under legendary coach Leigh Matthews.