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Hanratty focused on rebuilding Crossmaglen Rangers fortunes

By John Campbell

Crossmaglen Rangers midfield strongman Johnny Hanratty has fired out a New Year warning to teams who feel they can follow Ballinderry's lead and keep the perennial Armagh champions out of the Ulster club spotlight.

Rangers' quarter-final defeat by Down kingpins Kilcoo following a replay added a whole new dimension to this year's provincial competition but Hanratty, whose consistency in the engine-room continues to underpin his team's attacking machinery, believes that what has happened of late is nothing more than a temporary blip.

"Maybe it could actually be said that we over-achieved this year when the number of injuries and unavailability of key players from which we suffered is taken into account," declares Hanratty.

"We gave Kilcoo a good rattle before they beat us but now we are totally concerned with looking forward. We have players back and everyone will be fighting for their place. I think we will show that what happened to us this year was only a temporary blip."

Hanratty enthusiastically hails the appointment of Oisin McConville and John McEntee as the new Rangers management team.

"Here we have two brilliantly focussed men. Whenever they talk, players simply shut up and listen.

"They have seen and done it all and they most certainly will not be asking anyone to do anything that they have not done themselves in terms of putting in the hard work," observes Hanratty.

"We will need to get one hundred per cent effort from everyone if we are to achieve anything, especially on the Ulster stage. The younger players are starting to push on now and this is helping to keep the older boys on their toes and that's the way you want it."

Hanratty certainly does not pull his punches in assessing the contribution of some team members this year.

"I think maybe that a few might have been sitting back and not doing enough this year to be honest," he suggests.

And he is equally blunt in his assessment of the current Ulster club championship scene.

"I think the standard in the Ulster club series was poor. I believe it was better in other years. The Ulster club title was there for the taking by any club that wanted to stand up and lift it and fair play to Ballinderry they did precisely that," states Hanratty.

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