Player Watch #45: Conor McKenna

blitzer

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 27, 2006
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McKenna is threatening to become a true elite player but lets see if he can put it together consistently over the next couple of months. Still could be anything.
He really is an incredible athlete and can do some amazing things with ball in hand. I'd like to see McKenna the midfielder one day. Not sure we ever will but it could be a real game changer.

His aggressive streak is actually one thing that stands out about him. Otherwise he would just project to be another Johannisen which is fine he's a good player but he's your typical HBF running type player, not a game breaking champion of the game.

If I'm being honest I don't think he has the smarts to become the player I'd like to dream he could be but it'll be a fun journey.
 

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Howard Moon

Brownlow Medallist
Dec 14, 2008
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at risk of classic moon over analysis here goes..

the solo, I see it as more than a party trick.

I think of Glenn Maxwell, he likes to play the reverse sweep early in an innings, why? because he is a lair? no, its because it forces the opposition captain to think, it re draws the ground as a 360 degree space he needs to defend, not just the regulation areas he would normally. From there, the spaces open up and Maxwell can play regulation strokes more safely (when he choose to)

When I see the solo, I see it the same way, the more Conor does it, the more options that are presented to the opposing defender. Whats the thing any sports man hates the most? its looking like a dill, in any code, nobody likes to be nut megged in soccer, have busted ankles in basketball, or sold candy or whatever the equivalent is in any sport..

So normally, conor would have the ball, most normal defenders would think ok, guard him from going right, don't let him run around me. Then the old style defence comes in, watch the hips, go at him if you can.

But the solo, I see as almost an indefendable act, if he gets the ball to boot, the defender nearly has to attempt the smother, its the 1%er expected of you, the minute you give up your position to smother, you have lost any ground you had, when he re-gathers and dances, the world is his oyster and you have become a tag line in an irish joke.

so now players know he has this in his arsenal, it gives them another thing to think about, I expect players will sit off him more, which will play into his hands, he has elite vision and ability to hit up sideways and dinky kicks that set off attacks, all he needs is that extra pocket of space..

He may not ever need to solo again, the seed is planted, but I have a feeling he will, its in him, its not a twisted skill he is trying to perfect, its a part of his game.

I remember 2 years ago in my group chat I said he could be the best Irishman to ever play our game (big boots to fill, stynes ect) and I pretty much got laughed out of there - I had three blokes this weekend say, sorry, I called it 2 years ago and it may actually true! ill call that group chat vindication ;)
 

Towno78

Premiership Player
Nov 6, 2009
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The solo is something pretty special, takes incredible skill and control, and looks fantastic when he does it.

But if you want to break it down, it's nothing more than overcomplicating foot candy. When Walla and countless others have the ball, they throw some foot candy with the exact same effect, but given the ball never leaves their hand, far less margin for error and quicker response time.
 

GUMBLETRON

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 1, 2008
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The solo is something pretty special, takes incredible skill and control, and looks fantastic when he does it.

But if you want to break it down, it's nothing more than overcomplicating foot candy. When Walla and countless others have the ball, they throw some foot candy with the exact same effect, but given the ball never leaves their hand, far less margin for error and quicker response time.
It forces the defender to commit that little bit more than your usual aussie rules fake - once the ball drop begins they have no option but to attempt the smother.
 

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Lore

Dec 14, 2015
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I think Saad does it first up because it gives him time to make a decision, change direction, put on the afterburners and evade an opponent for another 15 metres. Can't bounce it while anyone has a finger on your clothing after all, so it's probably just sensible.

In Gaelic they're only allowed to bounce it once and then they have to solo it the next time, I think they do one or the other every 4 steps. So for Conor it probably just feels unnatural to run without bouncing or solo'ing it frequently.
 

rumply

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Apr 11, 2002
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Dont see why anyone would really have a problem with it & anyway whats the club going to do, say no, you cant go to your brothers wedding?
 
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