Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 1 September 2015

The no-warning killer

By Linda McKee

Published 06/09/2007

Sudden Death Syndrome has cut down many of Ulster's finest sporting hopefuls in their prime.

Even as far back as 30 years ago, Glentoran player 25-year-old Roy Stewart lost his life to an undiagnosed heart condition, just six months after his wedding.

In 2000, Portstewart champion golfer Aaron Lundy collapsed and died at the age of 19, also because of an undiagnosed heart condition.

Then in 2004, schoolboy rugby star John McCall from Armagh collapsed and died while competing in the Ireland v New Zealand under-19 World Cup in South Africa.

The tragedy took place around a month after the death of popular Tyrone GAA captain Cormac McAnallen, whose name has become synonymous with the mysterious syndrome.

The sports star's father has since been diagnosed with the same heart condition.

It has also claimed the life of 17-year-old Richard Martin, who collapsed at the Bawnacre sports centre in Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh, and 20-year-old Michelle Sinclair from Lisburn, a business management student at Northumbria University, who collapsed and died in January this year.

Almost every sports club in Co Tyrone has now been given access to vital life-saving equipment, thanks to the work of The Cormac Trust, which was set up by Cormac McAnallen's family in memory of their dead son.

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