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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 9 May 2021

Tyrone youngster Conor McKenna raises eyebrows with a solo in AFL clash

There have been questions asked about its place in the game’s rules.

Conor McKenna (file pic).
Conor McKenna (file pic).

TYRONE’S CONOR MCKENNA was on the losing side of the action on Saturday as Essendon were beaten by Richmond, but he was right at the centre of conversation afterwards.

In the second quarter of the pre-season game, while in possession of the ball, the Eglish native solo’d with many raising their eyebrows about its place in Australian Football League (AFL) rules.

‘Crafty kick to himself’, ‘chip-kick to himself’ and ‘kick-to-kick’ is how the solo has been described in an article on the AFL’s official website, with many on social media praising his cleverness to draw on his GAA background.

It caught his opponent off guard and McKenna ran on to have an effort at goal, but also left people questioning the rules of the game:

Could the solo count as a bounce and he could run a further 15m from the point he got the ball back in his hands, or is it counted within the 15m a player is allowed to carry the ball before disposing of, or bouncing it?

League rules read: “The player must bounce or touch the football on the ground at least once every 15m, irrespective of whether such player is running in a straight line or otherwise.

“For the purposes of this law, a player shall be deemed to be in possession of the football during the period when the player handballs the football to themselves and regains possession without the football touching the ground.”

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The AFL have since confirmed that this also applies to a player kicking the ball to oneself, just as McKenna did on Saturday.

But then again, there’s an uncertain area.

While the solo counted towards the 21-year-old’s 15m with the ball before he had to bounce, if the kick had been 15m or over (of markable distance) and McKenna was able to get there and repossess before anyone else got the ball, then umpires would call play on.

McKenna has been at the Melbourne-based club since 2014 when he signed as a rookie after catching the eye with Tyrone. He starred for the Red Hand minors who reached the 2013 All-Ireland football final.

Last September, the defender signed a new four-year deal and remains a key member of the Essendon backline.

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