Northern Ireland

Tragedy casts shadow for Tyrone GAA team

Cormac McAnallen
Image caption Cormac McAnallen, 24, was found dead in his bed

Mickey Harte's Tyrone Gaelic Football team which enjoyed greatness on the sports field, has also been touched by a series of tragedies.

In June 1997, a young minor player, Paul McGirr, 18, accidentally collided with a goalkeeper during an Ulster minor championship.

Mickey Harte helped carry the player - who was a friend of his son's - from the field on a stretcher. Paul died later from his injuries.

In the same year, Paul Hughes, 22 - the brother of another player, Kevin Hughes - died in a car accident on a dangerous stretch of road near Ballygawley in County Tyrone.

Just four years later, his sister, Helen, was killed in another car accident on the same stretch of road close to their home.

The sudden death of Tyrone captain, Cormac McAnallen shocked the Irish GAA community.

He was just 24 years old and a member of Tyrone's All-Ireland winning side when they defeated champions Armagh at Croke Park in 2003.

The young school teacher from Benburb was found dead in his bed on the morning of 2 March 2004.

His death was caused by a rare viral infection in his heart.

After his death, The Cormac Trust was set up by the McAnallan family, with the support of the Tyrone County Board of the GAA, to raise awareness about sudden cardiac death in young people.

It also provides defibrillators for use in sports clubs in the local area and trains people in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of defibrillators.

Speaking at the time of Cormac's death, Mickey Harte said: ''He was such a gentleman and all our sympathies go out to his family.

"His maturity belied his years, and he was everything you would want in a young man. ''He was just a gem of a man and it's going to be very difficult to pick up the pieces.''

Two years ago, Mickey Harte had a lucky escape when his car went off the road and was badly damaged.

He escaped with just cuts and bruises.

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