Another AFL departure as Armagh star leaves Essendon after one year

ARMAGH STAR ROSS McQuillan has called time on his AFL stint after just one year.

The 21-year-old follows in the footsteps of Tyrone’s Conor McKenna in departing Essendon and relocating permanently to home soil.

McQuillan, son of former Orchard player Martin, signed an international rookie deal with the Melbourne outfit in September 2019 but did not play in the AFL Premiership.

The St Patrick’s Cullyhana clubman has opted against involvement in the 2021 season and is now expected to link up with Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh.

An impressive athlete, McQuillan has also represented Northern Ireland in basketball and was named as a forward on the 2018 EirGrid U20 Team of the Year.

“On behalf of everyone at Essendon, we thank Ross for his services to the red and black since he arrived at the club in 2019,” the Bombers’ general manager of football Josh Mahoney said.

“We understand the considerable time and deliberation that went into Ross’s decision to move back home to be with his family in Ireland, and he has our full support in doing so.

“Clearly the 2020 season was unlike any other, and without a second tier competition, opportunity for game exposure was limited. Not only was it was a difficult year for Ross to learn the game and hone his craft, geographically being so far away from home added to the trying nature of the year.

McQuillan in training with Essendon.

Source: AAP/PA Images

“Ross will always remain part of the Essendon family and we wish him well for the new year and beyond.

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“As a list management team, we will now look at the possibility of making a further addition to our playing list for the 2021 season.

“Cian McBride will return from Ireland and is expected to join the playing group in Victoria in mid to late January after completing the relevant quarantine requirements.”

McQuillan’s former team-mate McKenna returned home in September and lined out for the Red Hand in the league and Ulster championship.

Derry native Conor Glass is another Irishman to have recently left the AFL after his spell at Hawthorn wasn’t extended.

Meath’s McBride will fly the Irish flag at Essendon in 2021.

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