For any player joining an AFL club, meeting the playing group is the first priority. It can be a nerve-wracking experience at the best of times, but for Irishman Conor McKenna – who signed on at Essendon as a category B rookie last month – the task has proved particularly challenging.
McKenna comes from Tyrone in Northern Ireland and brings speed, agility and an extremely thick Irish accent to Essendon’s list. After a couple of interviews that appeared on essendonfc.com.au, in which McKenna was barely decipherable, the Bombers’ media team made the wise decision to subtitle McKenna’s responses in the latest video.
While McKenna’s accent is bound to change as he adjusts to life in Australia, for now he may have to get used to speaking with people who can’t understand him. After his first response in his opening interview as a Bomber, one journalist laughed “I reckon I got about four words of that!”
In turn, Essendon list and recruiting manager Adrian Dodoro offered a short-term solution.
“I think [AFL National Talent Manager] Kevin Sheehan knows how to translate – ask him! I’ve got no idea what [Conor] just said.”
Though Dodoro admits it could take the Essendon players some time to get their head around McKenna’s accent, those that already have appear quite taken with him.
“Dyson Heppell spent some time with him and was so impressed,” Dodoro explained.
“He just said, make sure you get this kid signed up.”
For those who need a little more practice getting their heads around McKenna’s accent, or who want to test themselves without subtitles, the two videos below are well-worth a watch.