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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 March, 2004, 13:26 GMT
Remarkable life cut short
By BBC's Jerome Quinn

There have been many tears shed this morning in Tyrone at the passing of this extraordinary young man.

On a family level, he was a hero to his football-mad brother Donal.

Tyrone captain Cormac McAnallen
Cormac McAnallen died on Tuesday morning
So much so that Donal was the first person to sprint onto the pitch at the end of the All Ireland final and leap into Cormac's arms.

Cormac was to be married later this year and had the whole world in front of him in his private life and in his footballing life.

He'd just been made captain of the Tyrone team and spoke to me just four weeks ago about his appointment.

He chuckled at the task he'd been given of attempting to follow in the footsteps of Peter the Great, Tyrone's captain last September but said that it was an honour and that he hoped to have as good a year.

The fact that such responsibility had been placed on such young shoulders was an enormous tribute to Cormac as a footballer and as a person.

He was only 24 yet he was remarkably mature partly because he had already coped with tragedy in his sporting life.

His passing is a massive loss to everyone who knew him.

On June 15 in 1997 Tyrone minor team-mate Paul McGirr died a few hours after playing in a match in Omagh.

Cormac and the team of 18 year-olds eventually overcame that loss but they never forgot Paul which is why Peter Canavan in his acceptance speech last September stated that Paul had shaped their characters.

Tragedy like that shouldn't happen to a football team but now it's happened again.

It places another extraordinary burden on the shoulders of the All Ireland champions and on their management team who have been open with their spirituality in recent times.

Manager Mickey Harte wrote a book called 'Kicking down heaven's door.

I happened to pick it up only yesterday and found a quote Mickey had taken from basketball coach John Wooden.

"Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow".

Cormac was true to that philosophy. His passing is a massive loss to everyone who knew him.

GAA mourns McAnallen death
02 Mar 04  |  Gaelic Games

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