The family of a young GAA star whose sudden death stunned Ireland have said they are shocked by the loss of Mickey Harte’s daughter Michaela.
Cormac McAnallen was only 24 when he died from the condition Sudden Cardiac Arrest in 2004.
His parents, who said the Harte family had given them huge support in the intervening years, passed on their deep condolences following news of Michaela’s sudden death.
Cormac’s mother Bridget said: “I really feel heartfelt sympathy for the family. I can imagine how they must feel.
“The circumstances are different, but they are also very similar in that you have the death of a young, healthy son or daughter, who you would never have expected to pass away.
“Mickey Harte and his family have been a great support to us.
“He did so much to support us after Cormac’s death.”
She said her family knew the huge burden the Harte family would be carrying.
Mrs McAnallen and her husband Brendan formed a charitable trust in memory of their son. They now lobby to raise awareness of the condition that claimed his young life.
The GAA community across Ireland was shocked by news of the high profile player’s death.
Taoiseach at the time, Bertie Ahern, led tributes to the young sportsman.
A school teacher by profession, Cormac was a member of the Tyrone All-Ireland winning team in 2003.
His sudden loss was a major blow to his team-mates, but his memory helped inspire them to even greater success.
In 2005 when Tyrone reclaimed the title, Mickey Harte paid an emotional tribute to Cormac and said his team-mates had never forgotten him.
“When Cormac was made Tyrone captain he said he did not want to leave it with just one All-Ireland – and he hasn’t,” said a tearful Mr Harte in the aftermath of the team’s victory.
Tyrone GAA has been hit by other tragedies, including the death of another young star Paul McGirr in 1997 after he suffered an injury in a match.
Mrs McAnallen said the latest blow to hit the sporting community would be widely felt.
“I know people in GAA circles all over Ireland will be so sad to hear this news,” she said.
“There will be great sympathy for the Harte family.”