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GAA Star Remembered on First Anniversary

Filed under: News/Events - Posted on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2005 @ 11:50 am

One year since the sudden and tragic death of Tyrone captain Cormac McAnallen,

Darran McCann reports on how the McAnallen family have tried to channel their grief in raising awareness of Cormac’s condition

THE family of Cormac McAnallen have spoken of how much he is missed but also their “sense of mission” in raising awareness of cardiac health issues on the first anniversary of his death.

It is a year today since the 24-year-old Tyrone GAA captain died at his home in Eglish after a rare heart condition struck without warning.

Bridget McAnallen, Cormac’s mother, praised efforts by bodies such as (GAA fundraiser) Club Tyrone and the newly founded Cormac Trust in raising awareness and money.

“That has got a great amount of funds that can be used within a very short time to buy and supply defibrillators to as many clubs as possible in Tyrone,” she said.

Mrs McAnallen said of the last year: “I just often wished I knew of someone who had been in the same position as us before that I could have consulted for advice”. However, she said their campaign had a “very positive aim”.

“You can’t prevent [heart conditions] happening but you can raise awareness, get people screened and provide defibrillators,” she said.

“In some ways it’s been good for us in that we haven’t had time to brood. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that – you have to be able to express grief – but you can really get down.”

Cormac’s elder brother Donal (26) said it was “hard to believe” a year had passed.

“The year has been full of anniversaries. It’s a year now since Tyrone won the All-Ireland. Since Tyrone won Ulster. Cormac’s birthday. His engagement (to Ashlene Moore). You can always picture what happened exactly a year ago,” he said.

Although he achieved so much in his short life, Donal said he missed Cormac firstly as a brother.

“I wouldn’t have thought of his future in terms of how many medals he was going to win. Tyrone will always have 15 players,” he said.

“The saddest thing for me is to think of him getting married and having a family. He’d have been living in the area. It would have been great craic to have had Uncle Cormac living beside your own family. I always did hope for something like that.

“You have a different perspective when it’s your brother.”

He said his All-Star brother had been a hero to many people but was modest and perhaps didn’t fully realise the esteem in which he was held.

“Sometimes when you see them every day you don’t realise how special somebody is. He was a hero.

“Although you never said that, maybe when you look back now you wish you’d said it,” he said.

“Sometimes the saddest, most poignant things are the small things. Letters addressed to Cormac, poems he wrote or some small thing someone says that reminds you of something he said. It’s all those little, innocent things that he won’t touch again on this earth.”

A special Mass to mark the anniversary is to be celebrated at St Patrick’s Church in Eglish at 7.30pm on Saturday.

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