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Ten Years On

By tyronepro Sun 2nd Mar

Ten Years On (reproduced from Tyrone v Mayo Red Hand View 9th Feb 2014)
Ten years on it still seems like yesterday. The shocking news. The sense of disbelief. Clinging to the idea that it just couldn’t be true. That we could rewind time. That the next time round this wouldn’t happen. That our Captain in so many ways, The Great Cormac, just couldn’t be dead.
It’s a measure of how Cormac McAnallen impacted on us all in Tyrone that ten years on it’s as if he was still here. As if he was still central to all that is good about Tyrone GAA, just as he had been to hugely successful Tyrone Minor, Under 21 and Senior teams, to Eglish and School teams and of course within Scór. Cormac’s focus always seemed to be on Gaelic Tyrone, on Who we are, Where we’re from, Who was here before us, What is our place like and What do we believe in. Tyrone GAA has always been about developing the answers to those questions. And as long as it does, Cormac will be part of it.
Since Cormac left us Ireland has changed a great deal. Notions of wealth damaged us. The recession is now hurting us. Many old certainties have gone or been weakened. But the GAA remains with us and, we like to think, in Tyrone it is stronger and more vibrant than ever.
It’s apt that we welcome Mayo for our last home game leading up to Cormac’s Tenth Anniversary. Cormac’s final game for Tyrone was as Captain in the McKenna Cup Final against Donegal in Ballybofey on Sunday 22 February 2004. Tyrone romped to a 1-22 to 0-7 win over a Donegal squad containing future All-Ireland Champions Christy Toye, Colm McFadden, Paul Durcan and Eamon McGee. Referee was a youthful, still-in-his-twenties Joe McQuillan.
Then came the early hours of Tuesday 2 March. And everything changed.
Tyrone’s Allianz NFL game with Mayo on 7 March was put back for a week. Many, many Tyrone Gaels went to Castlebar the following Sunday but Tyrone’s 2-11 to 1-5 win was incidental. No one who travelled that day will ever forget the signs welcoming Tyrone placed by Mayo GAA at what seemed to be every village, cross-roads and roundabout on the road to McHale Park. In times of darkness, trouble and grief you find out the nature of people. And Mayo were not found wanting.
For the record the teams that day were: Tyrone – John Devine, Ryan McMenamin Ciaran Gourley Michael McGee, Brendan Donnelly Gavin Devlin Philip Jordan, Kevin Hughes Sean Cavanagh, Brian Dooher Brian McGuigan Stephen O’Neill, Mark Harte Enda McGinley Gerard Cavlan; Mayo – David Clarke, Dermot Geraghty Pat Kelly Gary Ruane, Fergal Costello Gary Mullins Conor Moran, Fergal Kelly Ronan McGarrity, Michael Moyles Billy Joe Padden Trevor Mortimer, Marty McNicholas Austin O’Malley Damian Munelly. Maurice Deegan was referee.
Tyrone went on to qualify for the Allianz NFL Semi-Finals, losing a monumental replay to Galway in Salthill 1-19 to 2-18 after extra time, following an equally epic 1-16 each draw in Omagh, also after extra time. We would meet Donegal again in the Ulster SFC Semi-Final on 20 June, losing 0-9 to 1-11 in Clones. On 7 August in Croke Park we faced Mayo again in the All-Ireland Quarter-Finals. They too over-turned the previous result as Tyrone fell by 1-9 to 0-16.
In football, wins are wins and losses are losses. Tyrone GAA’s real loss in 2004 was something else entirely.
Cormac Mac An Ailin
Fíor gael, fear feasa, peileadóir Gaelach, Captaen Thír Eoghain
Go luífe fód glas na h-Éireann go h-éadrom air.

By tyronepro Sun 2nd Mar

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