Cormac McAnallen was born on 11 February 1980 in Dungannon. He lived in the Brantry, a rural area in Dungannon district, 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 Saint Patrick’s Grammar School, Armagh; from 1997 to 2001 he was a student at Queen’s University, Belfast; and in 2001/02 he studied at University College Dublin, while doing teaching practice at St. Benildus’ College, Stillorgan.
From 2002 to 2004 Cormac taught in St. Catherine’s College, Armagh. His subjects included History, Politics, Mathematics, Computers, French and Religion, and he managed school sports teams.
Cormac made his name as a Gaelic footballer playing for Cumann Naomh Pádraig An Eaglais, Tír Eoghain and Éire, winning the highest national and international honours in the game at a relatively young age. He came to particular attention by serving as a captain of a number of these successful teams.
As a captain Cormac was often asked to coach and speak to youth teams.
In his after-school hours he acted as a Youth-Sport co-ordinator for Armagh district, and he was frequently a coach at Tír Eoghain GAA Summer Camp.
In his spare time, Cormac 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.
In 2003 Cormac got engaged to be married to Ashlene Moore.
Cormac died on 2 March 2004 with a heart condition. Go ndéanfaidh Dia trócaire ar a anam.
LIST OF ACHIEVEMENTS
Here follows a list of some of Cormac’s notable sporting and academic achievements:
Cumann Naomh Pádraig, An Eaglais
- Tyrone MFC (2): 1996, 1997
- Tyrone MFC (2): 1996, 1997
- Tyrone IFC: 1997
- 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
- Ulster MFL: 1998
- Ulster MFC (2): 1997, 1998 – latter as captain
- All-Ireland MFC: 1998 – as captain
- Ulster U-21 FC (2): 2000, 2001 – both as captain
- All-Ireland U-21 FC (2): 2000, 2001 – both as captain
- Ulster SFC: (2): 2001, 2003
- NFL (2): 2002, 2003
- McKenna Cup: 2004 – as captain
- GAA Young Footballer of the Year: 2001
- Ulster GAA Writers’ Personality of the Year 1998 & Footballer of the Year 2001
- Belfast Telegraph GAA Personality of the Year: 2001
- GAA All-Star: 2003 (as full-back)
Scoil Ghramadaí Naomh Pádraig, Ard Mhacha
- Nannery Cup (Ulster U-15½ FC)
- Ulster Schools ‘A’ Basketball titles from U-14 to U-19
- Blackboard Jungle RTÉ quiz winners, 1996/97
Ollscoileanna (QUB & UCD)
- Ryan Cup: 1999
- Sigerson Cup: 2000
- Graduated from Queen’s in 2000 with B.A. in History, and in 2001 with Postgraduate Diploma in Computer-Based Learning
- Dublin SFC: 2002
- Graduated from UCD in 2002 with Higher Diploma in Education (first-class honours) Graduated in 2002
- Queen’s University Graduate of the Year: 2004
- Railway Cup FC: 2003 (also played in 2001)
- Represented Ulster at basketball from U-14 to U-17 levels
- Represented Ireland at International Rules v. Australia: 2001 (as winners), 2002, 2003
Many tributes have been paid to Cormac. Here are just a sample:
Uachtarán na hÉireann, 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.”
Archbishop Seán Brady, Primate of the Catholic Church in Ireland: “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.”
GAA president Sean Kelly: “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.”
Tír Eoghain manager, Mickey Harte: “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.”
Tír Eoghain colleague Peter Canavan: “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, Armagh: “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.”