Irish Republican News · March 3, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Tragic death of sports hero

The sudden death of one of Gaelic football's brightest stars, Tyrone's Cormac McAnallen, has shocked his native county and the country as a whole.

His death comes less than a year after he played such a crucial role in his county's All-Ireland victory and just months before he was due to marry his fiancee, Aisling Moran from Derry.

President Mary McAleese and political leaders led the tributes that poured in yesterday to the Tyrone captain who died at just 24 years of age.

Mr McAnallen was found by his brother just before 3am on Wednesday morning in his bedroom in the family home. Tests have determined that he died of a rare viral infection to his heart.

Mr McAnallen took over from Peter Canavan as Tyrone captain and steered his team to victory in the McKenna Cup final last month.

Despite his young age, he was a role model and sporting hero of significance.

President McAleese said Cormac was the kind of young man that any mother and father would have been proud of. His own parents, Brendan and Bridget, had been very proud of him, she said, and had ``a wonderful store of memories'' of his honour, pride and hard work. ``I was very privileged to have met him,'' President McAleese said.

In extending his sympathy to the McAnallen family, the Taoiseach said he had met Cormac recently and described him as a wonderful young man who would be deeply missed by his family, country and his sport.

GAA president Sean Kelly said it was difficult to comprehend that such a sportsman, dedicated team man and gentleman should die so suddenly and so young.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte said there were no words that could do justice to the person that Cormac was. `` was just a gentleman and such a dedicated guy. He was just a gem of a man and it is going to be very difficult to pick up the pieces. It's a bad day for football, for sport,'' said Mr Harte.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said Mr McAnallen was an ``inspirational young man'' who had achieved much in his short lifee.

``His untimely passing has robbed this island of one of our greatest talents,'' he said.

``On behalf of Sinn Féin and the three MPs who represent Co Tyrone, Martin McGuinness, Pat Doherty and Michelle Gildernew, I would wish to offer my sincere sympathies to the McAnallen family and to Cormac's friends, team mates and to all Gaels in Tyrone at this most difficult time.''

He is survived by his parents and brothers Donal and Fergus.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News