MAYO’S CIAN HANLEY will return home to Ireland after spending three years with AFL side the Brisbane Lions.
The 21-year-old was delisted from the AFL squad last October, after he was informed by the club that they would not be offering him a new contract in 2018.
“[I've had] a lot of time over Christmas to think and I think it’s the right thing to do,” Hanley told the club website lions.com.au.
The former Mayo minor captain, who was a category B rookie for the Brisbane Lions, suffered with injuries over the last few years, including a torn ACL during the the All-Ireland minor semi-final defeat to Kerry in 2014.
He had already agreed to join the Brisbane side when that incident occurred.
After missing the 2015 season due to that injury, Hanley then struggled with a groin problem which sidelined him for much of the 2016 campaign.
Hanley came back to Ireland on compassionate leave last year to spend time with his family before his younger brother Tommy passed away at just 16 following a six-month battle with cancer.
Hanley’s older brother Pearce – who was traded from Brisbane to the Gold Coast Suns in 2016 — also returned home at the time.
“It’s been a big couple of weeks,” Hanley explained, “and obviously the last few years with injuries and what not.
“They’ve been unbelievable (Brisbane Lions), no faults on their end, obviously through injuries and sending me home last year with Tommy (brother) being sick and passing away.
“They’ve been unbelievable so [I'm] very appreciative of what they’ve done over the last while, it’s no fault of theirs that I’m going home, it’s just more me and personal reasons.”
Hanley was selected by Brisbane with pick 56 in the AFL Rookie Draft as an international rookie, but the impact of injuries hindered him from showcasing his talents.
Paying tribute to Hanley’s contribution to the Lions, General Manager of Football David Noble told the club website:
“Cian has been one of our hardest workers over the last three years particularly, overcoming injury and personal adversity with such a professional attitude, it is very sad to see him go home.
“We will miss his infectious smile, his positive attitude and bubbly contribution to our Club. We wish him a safe trip back home to Ireland where he will reconnect with his family.”
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