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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 24 January, 2019

Former Mayo minor captain Cian Hanley has been let go by the Brisbane Lions

Could he make a return to the Mayo jersey in 2018?

Image: Brisbane Lions

THE BRISBANE LIONS informed Mayo native Cian Hanley yesterday they won’t be offering him a new contract in 2018.

Hanley, who captained the Mayo minors to a Connacht title in 2014, has endured a difficult time since he made the move Down Under three years ago.

The 21-year-old had already agreed to join Brisbane when he tore his ACL in the All-Ireland minor semi-final defeat to Kerry in August 2014.

He was selected by Brisbane with pick 56 in the AFL Rookie Draft as an international rookie, but had little opportunity to showcase his talents.

He missed the entire 2015 campaign – his first in Australia – with that cruciate knee injury, before a groin problem hampered him for most of the 2016 season.

Last March his younger brother Tommy passed away at just 16 following a six-month battle with cancer.

Cian’s and his older brother Pearce – who was traded from Brisbane to the Gold Coast Suns in 2016 – spent time back in Ireland on compassionate leave to spend time with their brother before he died, and then to attend the funeral and mourn with the family.

On his return to Australia, Hanley started making progress and scored his first ever goal in the sport for Brisbane’s reserve side back in July.

With his deal running out last August, Brisbane asked the AFL to extend the international rookie rules to provide the club with adequate time to assess Hanley’s full potential.

“We like him, we just haven’t seen enough of him and we’d like the AFL to grant us an extension because of the circumstances,’’ Brisbane CEO Greg Swann stated at the time.

The AFL’s category B rules only allow clubs to place international players on their rookie list for three years, after that point they must elevate him to the senior list or delist him. Evidently the extension request was turned down by the AFL.

Hanley was one of five players delisted by the Lions yesterday, along with Michael Close, Claye Beams, Reuben William and Matthew Hammelmann.

“We are grateful for Michael, Claye, Reuben, Matthew and Cian’s contribution during their tenures with the Lions,” Lions List Manager Dom Ambrogio said.

“This time of year is always difficult, especially letting five good people go. We wish them the best in their AFL careers and hope they have another opportunity soon.”

Donegal youngsters Jason McGee and Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher spent time on trial with the Lions during the summer and stayed with Hanley in his Brisbane home.

It remains to be seen if other AFL clubs show interest in the Ballaghaderreen native, or whether he’ll return home to resume his Gaelic football career.

Were he to return to Ireland, it would be a massive boost to Mayo boss Stephen Rochford, who recently agreed to remain in charge of the Green and Red until 2020.

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Kevin O'Brien

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