Cormac McAnallen

Cormac McAnallen
Cormac McAnallen
Personal information
Irish name Cormac Mac An Ailín
Sport Gaelic football
Position Full Back / Midfield
Born 11 February 1980(1980-02-11)
The Brantry, County Tyrone,
Northern Ireland
Died 2 March 2004(2004-03-02) (aged 24)
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Occupation Teacher
Years Club
? -2004 Eglish
Club Titles
Tyrone titles 1 (Dublin)
Years County
?- 2004 Tyrone
Inter-county titles
Ulster titles 2
All Irelands 1
All Stars 1

Cormac McAnallen (Irish: Cormac Mac An Ailín; 11 February 1980 – 2 March 2004) was an Irish Gaelic footballer who played for Tyrone. He won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship with the county in 2003, also winning the Ulster Senior Football Championship twice and two National League titles. At underage level he won an All-Ireland Minor and two All-Ireland Under 21 Championships with Tyrone. He also won an All Star Award for his performances in the 2003 Championship.

McAnallen played his club football for Eglish St. Patrick's. He also for UCD while studying in Dublin and won helped the university win the Dublin Senior Football Championship.

McAnallen died suddenly on 2 March 2004, aged 24. Despite his relatively short career, he won almost every honour in the game. He was often captain of successful teams, and was known as a particularly inspirational captain.[citation needed]


Personal life

Cormac McAnallen was born on 11 February 1980 in Dungannon. He lived in the Brantry, with his parents Brendan and Bridget, and his brothers Donal and Fergus. Between 1984 and 1990 Cormac attended Derrylatinee Primary School; from 1990 to 1997 he attended St. Patrick's Grammar School in Armagh. At St. Patrick's he was part of the team that won the Blackboard Jungle quiz on RTÉ (1996/97). He was a student at Queens University Belfast between 1997 and 2001, and in 2001/02 he studied at University College Dublin, while doing teaching practice at St. Benildus College, Stillorgan. He graduated from Queens in 2000 with B.A. in History, and in 2001 with Postgraduate Diploma in Computer-Based Learning. He graduated from UCD in 2002 with a Higher Diploma in Education. He was named Queen's University Graduate of the Year in 2004.

From 2002 to 2004 Cormac's main subject of teaching was history and politics at St. Catherine's College, Armagh and he managed school sports teams. He also however taught other subjects such as history, politics, mathematics, computers, French and Religion. He was well liked by students and staff alike. In his after-school hours he acted as a Youth-Sport co-ordinator in the Armagh district, and he was frequently a coach at Tyrone GAA summer camps.

In 2003 McAnallen got engaged to Ashlene Moore. In his spare time, McAnallen played a wide range of sports – including hurling, golf, table tennis and soccer – and loved watching every type of sport. He was also a keen participant in quizzes, and he took a great interest in history and Gaelic culture.[citation needed]

Playing career


At Minor level, McAnallen won the 1997 Ulster Minor Championship with Tyrone and they went on to reach the All-Ireland Minor final, but were defeated by Laois. The following year with McAnallen as captain, Tyrone defended their Ulster crown and also went on to win the All-Ireland Minor title. He was named Personality of the Year by the Ulster GAA Writers Association in 1998.

McAnallen was Tyrone Under 21 captain in 2000 and 2001. In both those years the county won both the Ulster Under 21 Championship and the All-Ireland Under 21 Championship twice.

By this stage he was already playing for the Tyrone Senior side. In 2001 he won an Ulster Senior Championship medal and was named both All Stars Young Footballer of the Year and the Ulster GAA Writers Association's Footballer of the Year.

He was a midfielder on the Tyrone team that won back-to-back National League titles in 2002 and 2003. In 2003 he moved to the full-back position and two months later the team won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship for the first time in the county's history. Tyrone had also won the Ulster Championship earlier in the summer on route to winning the All-Ireland. McAnallen was rewarded with an All Star award for his performances in the 2003 Championship.

In 2004, just over a week before his death, he captained Tyrone to success in the Dr. McKenna Cup.


McAnallen won consecutive Tyrone Minor Championships with Eglish in 1996 and 1997. He won a Tyrone Intermediate Championship medal with the club in 1997.

McAnallen played for UCD while studying at the university and won the Dublin Senior Football Championship medal in 2001 and 2002 captaining the team both years.


McAnallen won a Railway Cup medal with Ulster in 2003 and also played in the competition in 2001.


McAnallen represented Ireland in the International Rules Series against Australia in 2001, 2002 and 2003.


McAnallen won the Ryan Cup with Queens University Belfast in 1999, and the following year helped the university win the Sigerson Cup.

Other sports

McAnallen played hurling for the Clan na nGael club. While at St. Pat's Amragh he played basketball and won Ulster Schools ‘A’ basketball titles from Under 14 to Under 19 levels. He also represented Ulster at basketball from Under 14 to Under 17 levels.


McAnallen died suddenly in his sleep on 2 March 2004, aged 24, from an undetected heart condition. His death deeply affected the Tyrone team and the world of Gaelic games as a whole.


Following his death, tributes poured in for McAnallen.

The President of Ireland Mary McAleese said "Cormac was revered throughout the country as one of the greatest Gaelic footballers of his time. It is hard to believe that one who died so young had already packed into his short life every possible honour in the game. It has been said that he has 'left behind much, much more than an empty jersey hanging on a peg'. For Cormac left the gifts of exemplary leadership, of passion for life itself, of discipline, sacrifice and courage, of generosity and service to others. Here was a life built on good choices, built in fact on goodness itself."

Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland Seán Brady said: "Cormac was an icon in the proper sense of the term. He was a role model, gentle and modest, dedicated and disciplined, joyful and happy."

Seán Kelly, President of the Gaelic Athletic Association at the time, said: "Cormac exemplified everything that was good in a Gaelic footballer and human being. He had that great and rare gift of greatness, allied to humanity. He won everything with style, skill and sportsmanship, in tandem with great academic achievement."

Singer-songwriter and Tyrone team-mate Mickey Coleman, wrote the song The Brantry Boy as a tribute to McAnallen.[1]

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte said: "He was such a good guy, a brilliant athlete and dedicated player…His maturity belied his years, and he was everything you would want in a young man. He was just a gem of a man."

Tyrone colleague Peter Canavan said "He was so enthusiastic and so keen to learn and it was a great honour for me just to be able to play alongside him. What Cormac tried to do, the other players tended to follow. Everybody knew from his early days that Cormac would become captain of the Tyrone senior team. Tyrone has lost a great leader."

Margaret Martin, principal of St. Catherine’s College at the time of McAnallen's death said "Cormac’s contribution to the life of the school has been immeasurable and we were privileged to have had Cormac, one of Ireland’s top athletes, among our staff. There is a sense of national loss and he epitomised someone who was committed to education, to Irish culture and Gaelic games."


The Cormac McAnallen Cup presented to the International Rules Series winners

In 2004 the Cormac McAnallen Cup, the cup that Ireland and Australia play for in the International Rules Series, was named in his honour.

In January 2005, the Cormac McAnallen’s GAC was founded in Sydney, Australia.

In February 2005 the Cormac Trust was launched in his memory. Its aims are to raise awareness of conditions causing Sudden Cardiac Death in the young; to promote cardiac screening to detect such conditions; to provide education and information to raise awareness at government level and among other authorities as to the value of providing facilities for the screening of young people; and to provide automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for sports clubs in the local region, and CPR training.

In September 2005, when Tyrone won their second All-Ireland Championship, team captain Brian Dooher dedicated the victory in Cormac's name in his acceptance speech said "Cormac should have been standing here instead of me," and went on to say, as a tearful team manager Mickey Harte had previously done only minutes before, that Cormac immediately stated after he had been appointed captain that he had not wished the 2003 All-Ireland success to be his last with the county. The tens of thousands of Tyrone fans who were on the pitch after Tyrone won the match then began to chant Cormac's name on what was an intensely emotional day for all those involved in Gaelic games in Tyrone.








  • Railway Cup:
    • Winner (1): 2003


  • Nannery Cup (Ulster U-15½ football championship):
    • Winner: Year?
  • Sigerson Cup:
    • Winner: 2000
  • Ryan Cup:
    • Winner: 1999


  • All Star:
    • Winner (1): 2003
    • Nominated (runner up): ?
  • All Stars Young Footballer of the Year - Winner (1): 2001
  • Irish News Ulster GAA All-Star - Winner (2): 2001, 2003
  • Ulster GAA Writers Association Personality of the Year: - 1998
  • Ulster GAA Writers Association Footballer of the Year: - 2001
  • Belfast Telegraph Personality of the Year: - 2001


  • Trath na gCeist, Scór na nÓg Thír Eoghain (3): 1992, 1993, 1994
  • All-Ireland Scór na nÓg Trath na gCeist: 1995
  • Trath na gCeist, Scór Sinsear Thír Eoghain (3): 1999, 2001, 2003


External links


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