Sports

Hanratty blow for Armagh

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

WHILE Armagh were quick to publicise the introduction of five players to the squad ahead of the Ulster Championship clash with Cavan, the departure of Crossmaglen's Johnny Hanratty has fallen under the radar.
Hanratty, a two-times club All-Ireland winning midfielder with Crossmaglen Rangers, failed to get a total of 60 minutes game-time under Armagh manager Paul Grimley during their failed National League campaign this season.
And the few minutes he had on the pitch, he was positioned to play among the half-forwards.
For me, it doesn't seem a far-reaching concept that a player who has won All-Ireland medals playing at midfield should be given an opportunity to play in that position for his county.
Carrickcruppen's Stephen Harold has been excellent over the past season and a half, since being brought into the Orchard set-up. He is a midfielder with pace, guile and is comfortable attacking.
Hanratty possesses more footballing finesse than he is credited for, but it is his ability to win ugly ball, display a physical presence and distribute accurate passes that makes the Cross man a possible candidate to partner Harold.
Ethan Rafferty is a fine prospect and like Harold keeps improving and he is likely to start against Cavan. Along with Harold and Tony Kernan, Rafferty was one of Armagh's best players last season.
Although what will be missing against Cavan is the option to bring on a capable midfielder who knows what it takes to win medals.
Hanratty quit the panel earlier this month as he felt he wasn't getting a chance to show what he could do and he plans on concentrating on helping his club Crossmaglen win a 41st county title.
Another midfield option could have been Silverbridge's Pete Carragher but he along with Ballymacnab's goal-scorer Gavin McParland and Harps' Declan McKenna have been banished from the squad this season, after they went to America last year.
However, good news for Armagh is the introduction of Carrickcruppen's full-back John Magill.
Over the past few seasons he has been one of the most consistent defenders in the county. Not huge in presence he has an excellent eye for tackling, doesn't give away frees, and can keep the majority of forwards he has marked quiet.
No doubt county football may be a step up but something Magill should be ready for and a chance he deserves, even if it is two seasons too late.
As well as the talented Cruppen defender Armagh boss Grimley has brought in David O'Hagan (Grange) and Tim Harney (Pearse Og) to join the goalkeeping ranks, while Seamus Kelly (Silverbridge) and U21 captain Miceal McKenna (Grange) have also been included.
Crossmaglen's James Morgan is back playing club football after missing last year's championship through injury and if he continues to make progress he should feature against Cavan on Sunday, June 8.
Clonmore's Brendan Donaghy is back running after six months out with tendonitis but it is doubtful if he will be ready for county football in June.
The Armagh management team should get the opportunity to look at players on Saturday, May 3, at 6pm, as the Orchard County play Derry in the reopening of the pitch and clubrooms at Wolfe Tone Derrymacash.
The County Board have decided to move all club games to 5pm on Sunday, May 11, to avoid clashing with the Giro D'Italia international cycle race and the Armagh Open and Fun Walk day will take place on Bank Holiday Monday, May 5, from 11am, where fans can meet up and mingle with county players. If interested in the Fun Walk then contact the Armagh County office at administrator.armagh@gaa.ie or telephone 02837527278.

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