Pearce Hanley is confident of a quick recovery from the hamstring injury that forced his substitution at half time of the Brisbane Lions 58-point loss to Collingwood at the weekend.
Hanley had amassed an impressive 17 disposals in the first half and was tracking for a season or maybe even career high number of touches when he had to leave the field.
While the sight of the former Gaelic footballer warming the bench for the second half would have put fear into the Brisbane Lions faithful, particularly after his checkered history with the injury, he’s said he could play this weekend and if not he’s certain to return the week after.
The 23-year-old missed over two months of his maiden season at the Queensland club with the same injury.
“At first I wasn’t sure what I’d done,” he said.
“But I had a feeling that it wasn’t serious. I’ve had serious hamstring injuries before, chronic problems but I felt this one was fairly minor. They took me off more as a precaution. Hopefully it’s just a blip and it won’t happen again. I suffered from chronic hamstring injuries early in my career but I’m hoping that won’t happen again.”
Hanley will undergo a fitness test later in the week to establish whether he’ll play in the Lions round eight clash with Greater Western Sydney but is optimistic that if he needs to rest this week, it will just be a one game absence.
The Mayo native said that while he would have liked to finish out the game on a day when he was heading for an impressive number of disposals, the most frustrating part was having to watch his team succumb to a thumping by the Pies.
“It was heading in that direction (for a season or career high possession tally) but the hardest thing is having to watch during such a difficult game, when the team is really struggling, and not being able to be out there to help your team mates.”
While going through his own injury setback, Hanley said he really feels for Setanta Ó’hAilpín, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in his debut game for Greater Western Sydney, having missed the start of the season due to an Achilles injury.
Ó’hAilpín now faces an uncertain future with his contract with the AFL’s newest franchise up at the end of this season.
“It’s devastating for that to happen to him. And especially such a severe injury. But no doubt he’ll be a great influence on the club’s young players for the rest of the season and hopefully the club can extend his contract.”
Hanley had Irish company on the field for the first time in a month with Niall McKeever returning to the side after a four-week sabbatical with the reserves.
Having played in rounds one and two of the season, the Antrim man was demoted to the club’s feeder side to rediscover some form.
Hanley said the brief stint out of the side would benefit his compatriot in the long term.
“He went back there (to the reserves) to work on a few things that the coaches wanted him to do and he’s fixed them now so he’s back.
He’s got more hunger now and his confidence is up. I suppose it’s a good wake up call for anyone, a kick up the bum. It will help him in the long run.”
McKeever had an interrupted pre-season with the squad missing almost seven weeks due to hamstring, quad and shin splint issues but it looks as though his stint in the reserves has helped him regain some of the form that saw him play ten straight games at the end of last season.
McKeever picked up a healthy 14 disposals in the loss to last year’s grand finalists.
Last season, Hanley and McKeever joined the list of Irish duos to take to the field together when they lined up alongside each other in round 14.
The Brisbane Lions pair followed in the footsteps of then Carlton pair Zach Tuohy and Setanta Ó’hAilpín who played together for the first time in round 11 against Port Adelaide.
The Blues players were the first Irish pairing since Jim Stynes and Sean Wight at Melbourne.