International rookie Ross McQuillan has informed Essendon of his decision to retire from AFL, effective immediately.

Hailing from County Armagh in Ireland, the 21-year-old will relocate back to his native country.

Growing up playing Gaelic football for St Patrick’s in Northern Ireland, McQuillan relocated to Australia when he was drafted by the Bombers in September 2019 under the AFL International Rookie rules, but did not play a senior game in 2020.

General manager of football Josh Mahoney said McQuillan had the full support of the club to call time on his experience in Australia.

“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,” 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.

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

“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.”

This news is brought to you by Orchard HRO, the club's official recruitment and list management partner.