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McAnallens central to parish life

CORMAC McANALLEN enjoyed a routine session in an Armagh city gym just hours before his death that has shocked the sporting world.

McAnallen, a teacher of history and politics in the nearby St Catherine's secondary school, regularly used the gym as part of the programme laid down to the Tyrone players by manager Mickey Harte and team trainer Paddy Tally.

He had spent the previous night at his fiancee's house in Derry before driving to Armagh on Monday morning.

Only last Friday he had been in the company of many of his Tyrone team mates at the wedding of the team's centre-back Gavin Devlin. It's the last time that many of them would have spoken to him.

On Sunday his Eglish team-mates were pleasantly surprised when he popped down to the local pitch and played a challenge despite his busy schedule with Tyrone.

His older brother Donal, who featured on the TG4 series 'Underdogs' late last year and is a noted theologian on history and GAA, was still working downstairs in the McAnallen household shortly before 3.0am when he was alerted to Cormac's apparent distress in his room upstairs.

"I rushed upstairs and found him in discomfort," recalled Donal. "We called the doctor but it was too late. It's such a shock. There were no signs that he wasn't well."

Donal McAnallen said the family, parents Brendan and Bridget and younger brother Fergus, was taking great solace and warmth from the tributes paid to Cormac across the airwaves and in person all day.

McAnallen had planned to marry in 2005 and had recently purchased a site a short distance from his homeplace. The McAnallens are renowned for their intelligence and keen history in current affairs and history.

On Sunday next Donal and Cormac were due to take place in the Tyrone Scór table quiz.

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IN the past Cormac had captained his school quiz team from St Pat's in Armagh in the televised series 'Blackboard Jungle' when his school won a minibus.

His loss was being felt deeply around Eglish yesterday. Eglish has not produced too many players of inter-county standard - Mattie McGleenan was the last.

A trophy room in the foyer of the local clubhouse was a testament to McAnallen's achievements.

The ball from the 1998 All-Ireland minor final against Laois with the scoreline (2-11 to 0-11) inscribed on it, an RTE 'Man of the Match' trophy from the Derry game in the Ulster championship in 2001 and the Vodaphone 'Young Player of the Year' trophy take centre stage.

In the hall a banner still adorns the wall telling Cormac how he "did his club and county proud."

There can be no simpler and more fitting tribute than that.

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