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Repeat: Off The Ball

Mayo's Diarmuid Connolly - The one that got away

Andy Moran and Paddy Andrews considered what could have been for Mayo on The Football Pod had Pea...

Mayo's Diarmuid Connolly - The...

Mayo's Diarmuid Connolly - The one that got away

Andy Moran and Paddy Andrews considered what could have been for Mayo on The Football Pod had Pearce Hanley opted not to pursue a career in the AFL.

A stirring profile of Donegal's Michael Murphy had Andy Moran thinking about a talismanic figure of Mayo's own and what could have been on this week's Football Pod.

"Glenswilly were looking for Murphy to play U21 at 14," he remarked of details revealed in the article. "Well, Pearce Hanley played for us at 15 in at corner forward and we won the U21 in Mayo.

"Ah, lads, what a player, what a player!"

A clubmate of Moran's in Ballaghaderreen, Mayo never reaped the benefit of Hanley's talents - he forged out over a decade long career in the AFL instead.

Thinking back on what could have been, it wasn't just Moran who had strong thoughts about Hanley's decision.

Mayo 2014; Ireland's Pearce Hanley and captain Michael Murphy during squad training ahead of their International Rules Series game against Australia | Sportsfile

"He was in DCU for a year before he went over and I remember playing on that team with him," recalled Paddy Andrews, a multiple All-Ireland winner with Dublin in the years that followed.

"If he was back playing in those Mayo vs Dublin games... I'm glad he wasn't for our sake. He was a spectacular player - the standout guy on that DCU team."

Likening his natural flair for Gaelic football to that demonstrated by his former Dublin teammate Diarmuid Connolly, Andrews just recalls Hanley making the game look easy.

"And this was him at 17," he noted by way of warning. For Andy Moran, at club and county level, he is acutely aware of what was lost.

"I remember we were playing a championship game and he laid a fella out," Moran recalled. "He was about 16, 17 years of age playing senior championship and this fella was a hardy boyo.

"Hanley just lays him out. He was just a ruthless individual and a sensational footballer of the highest, highest order. Right foot, left foot, could play any position."

Needless to say, there were plenty of attempts at luring Hanley back to Mayo, but it was never going to happen.

"I remember Alan Costello, he used to play for Sligo and Mayo, telling me, 'Andy, when you fly into Brisbane the first thing you see is a billboard with Pearce Hanley on it,'" he explained.

"'He's not coming home. He can't come home.'"

Recently retired from the AFL, Moran insisted that the 32-year-old Hanley still had something to offer if ever he decided to heed Mayo's call.

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Afl All Ireland Final Andy Moran Dublin GAA Gaelic Football Mayo Paddy Andrews Pearce Hanley