Crossmaglen Rangers pull plug on sponsorship deal after oil tycoon jailed
Eugene Hanratty Snr had been found guilty of a vicious and premeditated attack on Castleblayney man Martin McAllister
Crossmaglen Rangers have officially pulled the plug on their main sponsor this week after the jailing of millionaire oil tycoon Eugene Hanratty Snr.
Advertising hoardings emblazoned with Hanratty Oils were removed this week from St Oliver Plunkett Park – the home of the 46-times Armagh champions.
The GAA club’s website and social media accounts have also had the Hanratty Oils insignia and name removed.
It is understood the club is now in negotiations with new sponsors and already a firm of accountants are believed to be the front runners to have their names emblazoned across the iconic black and amber striped shirts.
Hanratty Oils had been the current Armagh champions’ main sponsor for the last three years but that has been brought to an abrupt end after Hanratty snr was jailed last November for four years, with one of those years suspended.
The 63-year-old had been found guilty of a vicious and premeditated attack on Castleblayney man Martin McAllister and, as well as being sent to prison for a considerable period, he was also ordered to have no contact with the family of Mr McAllister for ten years.
He had launched a cowardly attack on Mr McAllister as he sat in his car. He was knocked unconscious and repeatedly kicked and punched.
Images of his shocking injuries demonstrated the terrible impact the attack had taken on Mr McAllister.
The disturbing pictures taken a few days after the attack showed the imprint of a boot on the chin of Mr McAllister, who also believes Hanratty targeted his hands, knowing he was a talented guitarist.
The Sunday World revealed how the highly respected GAA club had decided to ditch Hanratty Oils as the club’s main sponsor within days of his conviction at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
However, sources close to the club say they were careful to follow all legal procedures and processes before giving the official red card to the company.
“As soon as Eugene Hanratty was convicted, the hierarchy at the club knew they had to act but they have done it the right way and not rushed it,” said a source.
“They needed to make sure they didn’t put themselves in bother legally and held several meetings to discuss the process of dropping Hanratty Oils.
“The advertising hoardings are now gone from the stadium and the Twitter and Facebook accounts have been purged of the Hanratty name.
“The website used to be covered in Hanratty Oils livery but if you go on now they have cropped all the shirts and you’d never know they’d ever been a sponsor. It took a lot of time and effort.They hope to have new kits with their new sponsor available soon.”
We contacted Crossmaglen Rangers GAC and asked if they wanted to comment on the changes, but they didn’t respond.
One of Ireland’s best-known GAA clubs, it has dominated Armagh senior football for more than two decades and during that time has won 11 Ulster club titles and six All-Ireland club titles. The club itself has recently seen some very dark days but continue to produce elite athletes playing GAA at the highest level.
A number of ex-players and officials are currently behind bars for serious criminal offences.
However, the club continues to retain a significant community support and is the lifeblood of the border town.
During his sentence hearing, Eugene Hanratty Snr used his financial sponsorship of Crossmaglen Rangers and his ‘support’ of the community as mitigation for a lighter sentence.
Hanratty Snr’s defence counsel described him as “a pillar of the community,” who is a polite, caring and compassionate family man, who is remorseful and has never been in prison before.
Senior counsel Padraig Dwyer said Hanratty was “a decent human being” who worked hard all his life, who donated to charities and supported the GAA and “rears turkeys to distribute to struggling families at Christmas”.
A source told the Sunday World some figures at the club were somewhat “uneasy” at the club’s name being mentioned in court during such serious criminal charges.
“Hanratty tried to use the good name of the club to get a lighter sentence and there were a lot of members of the club who felt uneasy at being dragged into such a case,” said a source. “The club has been through enough recently and they didn’t need that. It didn’t go down well.”
Hanratty is serving his time behind bars at Mountjoy Prison in Dublin where sources have revealed he has managed to secure a job working in the kitchens.
Martin McAllister says he was assaulted because he had challenged Hanratty about allegations of diesel sludge dumping and in 2010 had walked with then PSNI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, down the main street of Crossmaglen, raising the issue – something he told the court “made me very unpopular with certain people”.
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