Thousands pack village for GAA star's funeral

The hall where GAA All Star Cormac McAnallen proudly displayed the Sam Maguire Cup to cheering crowds fell silent today as people went to pay their final respects to their hero.

The hall where GAA All Star Cormac McAnallen proudly displayed the Sam Maguire Cup to cheering crowds fell silent today as people went to pay their final respects to their hero.

Eight hundred mourners packed into the modern Eglish GAA Club to watch his Requiem Mass on video screen from the nearby St Patrick’s Church.

A large picture of the 24-year-old Tyrone captain adorned the wall with the words “Cormac 1980 to 2004 RIP”.

It was the hall where as an eight-year-old, Cormac came on Sunday mornings to hone the skills that would make him a legend.

Club trustee Henry Daly, choking back tears, said the tiny Co Tyrone village was still in shock after the death of their most famous son on Tuesday morning.

“They brought the Sam Maguire to this hall a week after their victory. It was a joyous occasion. Today it couldn’t be more different.

“The least we can do is to ensure that this final farewell will take place with great dignity.

“We all looked at Cormac here as a god. Everybody felt so proud of his achievements,” he added.

Both the Sam Maguire and the McKenna Cup, which Cormac helped win last month as Tyrone captain, were proudly on display at the little church, packed with more than 300 family, friends and gaelic officials and players.

Thousands of mourners poured into the tiny village seven miles from Eglish to attend the funeral of the greatest gaelic footballer of his generation.

Outside, people signed personal tributes in a book of condolence. One message said: “You are a legend and an inspiration to everyone. You will always be remembered. RIP Cormac.”

Members of the Tyrone County team and Mr McAnallen’s home club St Eglish formed a guard of honour as his coffin, draped with his county and club shirts, left the family home at Brantry for the funeral service.

Many of the players were visibly upset as they carried the coffin a quarter of a mile to Tullygiven Point.

Following behind the coffin was the 24-year-old Tyrone captain’s father Brendan, mother Bridget, his brothers Donal and Fergus and his grieving fiancee Aisling Moore.

Mr McAnallen was found dead in his bedroom early on Tuesday morning. A post mortem exam found he had died of a rare viral heart infection.

The main street at Eglish was lined with mourners waiting in the bright spring sunshine for the funeral cortege to arrive at the picturesque little church.

With so many people wanting to come to pay their last respects to their hero, the roads around the village were closed off from early morning.

A park-and-ride system was in operation from a hotel near Dungannon to ensure that the crowds wishing to attend could be ferried to the village.

Arrangements were put in place to make sure the vast numbers were able to hear the Requiem Mass conducted by parish priest Father Pat Breslin.

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