Irish AFL star Conor McKenna looks set to be reprimanded by his club Essendon for playing Gaelic football while home in Tyrone.

Former Red Hand minor McKenna (23) thrived for the Melbourne side in 2019, playing 22 games.

However, while back in Tyrone, he scored a goal to help home club Eglish maintain their Division 1 status in a relegation play-off.

News of that has reached Essendon boss John Worsfold, who is unhappy one of his prize assets is playing competitive sport in his time off.

"We certainly didn't send him back there to play football," Worsfold told the SEN radio station.

"I was really disappointed when I heard that because we know that he's passionate about Gaelic footy, he’s passionate about footy, he’s an energetic young man, he’s so up and about. I can see them going to him and saying 'do you want to have a kick?’

"It puts them (players) at risk of an injury of doing something that is outside their contract so in effect it puts them at risk of costing themselves a contract or a lot of money if they get a serious injury.

"When he gets back we will just talk through why it isn't appropriate and the risk that you are taking.

"I've reflected on it and I won't speak to Conor until he gets back and I will be disappointed that he played and didn’t feel like he could have rung and checked."

Worsfold hinted he might have given McKenna permission to play or train with Eglish if he had asked in advance.

"Out of everything you can do as a footballer in the off-season, going and playing non-contact football would be the best," Worsfold said.

"It's better than going snow skiing or playing basketball or playing rugby, something you don’t do day in and day out.

"So - this will be his argument I can tell you - he went and did it in a non-contact environment.

"In terms of physical risks, I’m pretty comfortable he wasn’t putting himself in massive danger. Players at that stage of their off-season are starting to really ramp up and get ready for full training and they should be running flat out and kicking the ball."