Ballaghaderreen’s Hanley makes his AFL debut
Pearce Hanley got his chance with Brisbane
AFTER making his debut for the Brisbane Lions in the AFL last Saturday, Ballaghaderreen’s Pearce Hanley admits he is thrilled he took the plunge last August to try his hand at Aussie Rules.
“I’m definitely delighted I came out here, I’ve no regrets,” the 19-year-old told The Mayo News yesterday after an solid performance at half-back during the Lions 115-109 defeat to Carlton at The Gabba in Brisbane, which virtually signalled the end of their play-off hopes.
While Hanley and the Lions will be disappointed with the nature of the defeat, blowing a 32-point three-quarter lead, Hanley’s progression to the first team was a bright note on the night.
His achievement in making the cut during his first year is all the more remarkable when you consider that he missed close to three months of the season with a torn hamstring.
He admits he thought that was curtains for first team aspirations this year.
“To be honest I came out here hoping for a (first-team) game this season. I knew that if I put my head down and learned the skills I had the speed and would work in the gym to build strength and I wouldn’t be too far away.
“But I had a big injury setback when I tore my hamstring quite badly and I spent 10-11 weeks out. Coming back after that I thought playing in the reserves for the rest of the season was all I could hope for but I’ve played four reserve games since coming back and been brought into the first team so I’m certainly thrilled with that,” admitted the Mayo minor star of ’05 and ’06.
Performing in front of close to 35,000 fans wouldn’t have been an alien experience to Hanley. What he found most difficult about last Saturday was the pace of the game.
“There definitely were a few nerves but I didn’t let the size of the crowd get to me. The reserves is the level I have become used to playing Aussie Rules at so this was a big step-up for me, the game of the pace is so much quicker than reserves so getting to that pace was the biggest challenge.”
Hanley, who hopes to be picked for Brisbane’s last game of the season away to Sydney Swans on Saturday, already has his sights set on securing his future at the club.
“I’ve a two-year rookie contract and I’m here next year and nothing else has been talked about yet regarding a senior contract so it is up to me to perform and keep making progress and I’m looking forward to doing that.”
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