DOB: 3 July 1964
From: Roscommon, Ireland
Number: 56 (1984)
The first Irish player to appear in the VFL responded to a newspaper advertisement from Melbourne, but thought his chances of being signed to play in the foreign code were finished when he had to miss tryouts due to an ankle injury. Impressed by a season where he jumped from the Gaelic Football equivalent of the thirds to the seniors, the Demons tracked the teenager down later in the season to arrange a personal tryout. He impressed and was signed to a two year scholarship contract.
Earley didn't move to Australia until mid-1983, after being delayed at home with the illness and subsequent death of his father. He overcome a groin injury from excessive kicking practice early in the season to play out the year in the Under 19s. He returned to Ireland over summer and played with his old side while on holiday. On his return to Australia in 1984 he played for the Reserves, graduating to the senior side in the last game of the year.
Earley kicked a goal amongst nine touches while playing on a wing during his debut, but was less successful when moved into defence. Homesick, and safe in the knowledge that his old employer had held his job open for the years he'd been in Australia, Earley returned home before the reserves finals series to rejoin Roscommon and play alongside his elder brother Dermot, a Gaelic Football legend, who was approaching the end of his career.
He later managed the Allenwood and Celbridge clubs and worked as a TV commentator. Returning to Australia in the early 2000's, Earley agreed to help the Sydney Swans scout Irish players and was instrumental in the Swans signing future premiership player Tadgh Kennelly.
May have played Under 19s immediately after arriving from Ireland.