Tuohy keen to see McKenna join AFL Cats

·2-min read

Geelong's Irish defender Zach Tuohy says he'd welcome countryman Conor McKenna with open arms as the former Essendon dasher eyes an AFL comeback.

McKenna made a name for himself as a dashing half-back across 79 games between 2015 and 2020 at the Bombers before returning home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Back playing Gaelic football with County Tyrone, the 26-year-old has opened the door to restarting his AFL career, and has been linked to Geelong.

"I'm not involved (in getting McKenna to Geelong) and I would be interested, yeah," Tuohy told reporters.

"He's a top player and any good players you can get at your club, you want them all and the more Irish players, the better as far as I'm concerned. An All-Irish half-backline would be pretty special.

"So yeah, I'd be all for it.

"I haven't spoken to him, no. I'm probably a generation or two ahead of him but maybe 'Shark' (Mark O'Connor) or few of the other young Irish guys have."

Tuohy, 32, has been the picture of longevity since debuting for Carlton as a 21-year-old in 2011.

He played 120 games for the Blues before crossing to Geelong at the end of 2016, where he's added another 128.

Tuohy will either notch game 250 in this year's grand final, or round one next year, depending on how Friday's preliminary final against the Brisbane Lions at the MCG plays out.

He is set to play on next year, when Jim Stynes' record 264 games for an Irish player beckons.

"I've got plenty left in the legs and the milestones would be nice post-career, to reflect on the big ones," Tuohy said.

"Obviously, the premiership to try and get.

"Jim Stynes' record would almost be embarrassing to break to be honest, but would be, I guess, nice to have."

Post-season, Tuohy and wife Rebecca, who married this year, will head to Ireland for the first time since the pandemic for a second wedding.

He also hopes to return to Portlaoise, when his AFL career ends, to finish his sporting days playing Gaelic football.

But first, Tuohy wants he and O'Connor to join former Sydney dasher Tadhg Kennelly in what's currently a one-member club: Irish AFL premiership players.

"Winning the flag is the only goal I have in my career," he said.

"It's the only goal I've had for most of my career, but certainly since I've been at Geelong.

"If I can do it with Mark O'Connor I think that will make it extra special."