Cormac’s brother sets record straight in book

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A new book about former Tyrone captain Cormac McAnallen by his brother Dónal provides a unique insight into his life as a GAA star and the circumstances of his sudden death from a rare heart condition.

In ‘The Pursuit of Perfection - The Life, Death and Legacy of Cormac McAnallen’ Dónal recalls the day after his tragic death in March 2004 as his family, community and the sporting world struggled to come to terms with their loss.

Donal also describes how the family struggled with their grief for a number of years.

“The heavy impact played out for two years,” he says. “By the time that was done, we had to try to restore some normality into our lives, you can’t go straight into writing a book.

“People always said to me, perhaps without the greatest of sensitivity, that if you were going to write this book, you should do it soon. And people had this fixation in their head that it had to be an anniversary, particularly the 10th anniversary.”

On that 10th anniversary, a gala dinner in memory of Cormac, to aid the work of the Cormac Trust, which has popularised, spread and educated people on the use of defibrillators, left Donal in no doubt that there was still a serious interest in his brother and an energy around his memory that former classmates, pupils, teammates and friends enjoyed drawing upon.

Consequently, Donal says the idea of capturing Cormac’s story in book form began to properly take shape: “In the course of gathering up photographs, video and renewing conversations with people around that time, I said ‘Well look, I will have to strike now if ever.’”

One of Donal’s reasons for writing the book was to set the record straight.

“Another thing was that there was a certain amount of mythology that had built up around Cormac. I touched on some of that in the book. From the very word go a lot of it was ‘He didn’t drink’ and other stuff like that. I’ve heard people on stages embellishing his story, greatly at times. And that was never meant to discredit him.

“But it occurred to me quite often that no amount of embellishment can do justice to the real story.”