Pierce Hanley’s off to Australia

The bad news doesn’t end, by the looks of it, with our being knocked out of the championship: the Mayo News has reported that recent senior debutant Pierce Hanley has all but agreed to take up a two-year professional contract to play Aussie rules. This is seriously bad news: the young Ballaghman has already provided evidence at senior level – in the recent qualifier matches against both Cavan and Derry – of his precocious talent and he’s one of the crop of youngsters around whom Johnno will, no doubt, have been planning to build his new senior team for next year.

We can ill afford to lose someone with Pierce’s array of talent and our hopes of building a team that is able to compete once again at national level will be diminished by his departure from the inter-county scene. It’s not hard to see why the opportunity to play football on a professional basis would be an attraction for a player like Pierce – that RTE programme about the O hAilpin brothers, with Sean Og working full-time and training in the evenings down in Cork while the two lads lived it up as professional athletes over in Oz, showed clearly why this would be the case – and it would be churlish not to wish the lad the best for what is likely to be the adventure of a lifetime for him. You can’t help thinking, though, that it would have been better (for the county, if not for Pierce) had those Aussie scouts stuck to watching the likes of Kerry and Tyrone instead.

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