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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 March, 2004, 15:24 GMT
Ahern leads tributes
Cormac McAnallen was given the Tyrone captaincy in January
Cormac McAnallen died suddenly on Tuesday morning
Irish Premier Bertie Ahern led the tributes today as the GAA was left in a state of shock and desolation by the death of one of its brightest stars.

The taoiseach described Mr McAnallen as a wonderful young man and said he would be missed by the entire country.

In a message which encapsulated the feelings of the Irish nation, Mr Ahern spoke of his "shock and sadness".

"I had the pleasure of meeting Cormac recently and he was a wonderful young man," said Mr Ahern.

"He will be deeply missed by his family and friends, his county and his sport.

"On behalf of myself and my colleagues in government, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his fiance, his family, his team-mates and the people of Tyrone at this most difficult time."

GAA president Sean Kelly said it had been a "privilege" to have known the Tyrone player.

"Cormac exemplified everything that was good in a gaelic footballer and human being," said the GAA president.

In his work as a teacher he was respected and admired by all who knew him
SDLP's Joe Byrne

"He had that great and rare gift of greatness, allied to humanity.

"He won every honour with style, skill and sportsmanship, in tandem with great academic achievement."

Nationalist politicians in Northern Ireland expressed their shock at the GAA player's death.

Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew expressed her sympathy to McAnallen's family and team-mates, saying they had lost "one of the finest sportsmen in Ireland".

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP said: "His death this morning at the age of 24 has left a massive void within the GAA in Tyrone and further afield but ultimately our thoughts must be with his family at this time.

"The news of Cormac's death is being met with a mixture of both shock and disbelief throughout the county.

"As MP for this area and on behalf of Sinn Fein, I would wish to offer my condolences to the McAnallen family and to Cormac's team-mates in both Tyrone and the Eglish club at this time."

As he expressed his party's condolences to McAnallen's family, SDLP councillor Joe Byrne said the Tyrone captain's death was a tragedy.

"This is an extremely sad day for Gaelic supporters across the island," Mr Byrne commented.

"Not only was he one of the most gifted players to play Gaelic Football but in his work as a teacher he was respected and admired by all who knew him."


SEE ALSO
GAA mourns McAnallen death
02 Mar 04  |  Gaelic Games
Remarkable life cut short
02 Mar 04  |  Gaelic Games


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