Great grief as GAA star laid to rest

The village of Eglish yesterday buried its young hero Cormac McAnallen, amid immense grief.

The village of Eglish yesterday buried its young hero Cormac McAnallen, amid immense grief.

"It is hard to make sense of it all," the Catholic primate, Dr Seán Brady, told those packed into the church of St Patrick and the thousands outside.

Cormac was an icon, "in the proper sense of that term", he said in his commendation. "He was a role model, gentle and modest, dedicated and disciplined, joyful and happy." The scale of the community's loss was reflected in the massive funeral. The deceased's stricken parents led the cortege towards the 19th century church on the hill, accompanied by his brothers Fergus (22) and Donal (25), and by Ms Ashlene Moore whom he was to marry later this year.

Schoolchildren and GAA members lined the winding route through the crowd, which included party leaders, Government Ministers and officials from other sports.


The coffin was draped with the shirts from the Tyrone county team and Eglish St Patrick's where Cormac played his club football. As with tradition, these were removed as the coffin was carried into the church where other mementos from his sporting career were displayed.

The Sam Maguire trophy and the Dr McKenna cup, which the newly appointed Tyrone captain had lifted last month, were in the church for the requiem Mass.

Capt Sue Ramsbottom attended on behalf of the President, Mrs McAleese, and the Government was represented by Mr John O'Donoghue. Ms Aideen McGinley represented the North's sports minister, Ms Angela Smyth. The Irish Times was represented by Seán Moran, GAA correspondent.

The GAA president, Mr Seán Kelly, and some of his predecessors attended as did Mr Jim Boyce of the Irish Football Association. The current Tyrone and Armagh teams were present as were stars from other counties and many colleagues from the Irish International Rules team. Many in the crowd wore county shirts from all over Ireland.

Some 800 mourners, including Mr Gerry Adams and Mr Mark Durkan, as well as clergy from other denominations, took their seats in the small church for the Mass, which was relayed to the crowd outside and followed on large screens at the local GAA clubhouse and the parochial hall.

The parish priest, Father Patrick Breslan, was assisted by the Rev Gerard McAleer and the Rev Kevin Donaghy. Father Breslan commended the dead man's faith. "He didn't parade his faith but his attendance at Mass and his love for his faith couldn't have been better."

The prayers of the faithful were offered by the Tyrone manager, Mickey Harte, and by Peter Canavan. Prayers were also offered by Matty McGleenan, a former Tyrone player, and by Ms Margaret Martin, principal of St Catherine's College, Armagh, where the deceased taught.