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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 31 March, 2020

'I was drunk my first two years' Pearce Hanley speaks ahead of 100th AFL game

The former Mayo footballer is reaching a landmark day in his career.

Hanley has become one of the best ever Irish AFL exports.
Hanley has become one of the best ever Irish AFL exports.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

FORMER MAYO STAR Pearce Hanley will line out for the 100th time with the Brisbane Lions, but he has revealed his AFL career could have been over before it ever really begun.

In an incredibly honest interview with, the 26-year-old explains that a disciplinary issue almost cost him his Aussie Rules career, but that it served as the perfect wake-up call for him.

Hanley left Mayo for the AFL in 2007 as a teenager, and made his debut at the end of the 2008 season, replacing another Irishman Colm Begley, who has since returned to Ireland to continue his football career with Laois.

He says that it took a dressing down from then Lions coach Graeme Allan to make him change his partying ways and concentrate on forging a career in the sport.

“I think I was drunk my first two years,” he said.

“I got in a bit of strife and thought I was in a bit of trouble. The club were very good to stand by me.

“I thought I wasn’t going to be given another contract and I thought I was going to be sent home. I remember I got a bit emotional in front of the boys and I think from there I turned my year around.

“The next pre-season I knuckled down and from there my game has got better and better and I’ve turned into the player I am today.”

Pearce Hanley and Ben McGlynn Hanley in action during the International Rules Series in 2011. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Hanley was elevated to the Lions’ senior list in 2009, and hasn’t looked back since, now being spoken of in the same breath as legendary Irish AFL stars Jim Stynes and Tadhg Kennelly.

Now 26, Hanley will make his 100th appearance in the Brisbane jumper this Sunday, as they take on the Sydney Swans at the Gabba.

The Mayo man is now an key part of the Lions side, although they are struggling this season, sitting bottom of the AFL ladder with just two wins in 13 games this season.

However, Hanley was out of action for the opening nine of those games, with hip surgery delaying his start to the campaign.


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Neil Treacy

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