Northern Ireland news

Mystery of tragic Tyrone captain Cormac McAnallen's last texts

Cormac McAnallen celebrates Tyrone's All-Ireland victory in September 2003
Connla Young

RELATIVES of former Tyrone GAA star Cormac McAnallen initially feared he may have been a victim of foul play after finding two mysterious text messages on his mobile phone after his death.

For the first time the final hours of the GAA man’s life are revealed including the concerns at first of his closest over the 24-year-old’s shock death in 2004.

However, police soon tracked down the source of the texts and were able to rule out anything untoward.

The schoolteacher’s sudden death at the peak of his playing powers sent shockwaves throughout Ireland.

At the time McAnallen was one of the country’s most recognisable GAA figures, having won an All-Ireland medal with Tyrone and been awarded an Allstar in 2003.

He also represented his country in the international rules series against Australia.

McAnallen died in his bedroom at the family home at Eglish on March 4 2004.

Although the exact cause of his death has never been established experts later put it down to sudden adult death syndrome, a heart condition that often goes undetected in many young people.

A new book, The Pursuit of Perfection, the Life, Death and Legacy of Cormac McAnallen, written by his brother Dónal and published by Penguin Ireland on Thursday, explains how Dónal initially feared foul play after two “bizarre, creepy text messages” were found on Cormac’s phone.

The seemingly chilling messages had been sent to him the evening before he died and would play on his loved ones’ minds for days.

Police later tracked down the source of the texts and ruled out anything untoward.

:: More coverage on Thursday

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