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Michaela’s influence will live on in Tyrone

As thousands of people from all over Ireland and further afield converged on the tiny hamlet of Ballymacilroy in the heart of Tyrone for the funeral of Michaela McAreavey today, it emerged that what one official described as her “absolute positivity” is to be adopted as a theme for the county.

Tyrone in particular has been consumed by grief since Michaela’s tragic death on honeymoon in Mauritius last Monday.

And as thoughts turn to the future, Michaela’s exuberant, outgoing demeanour — rarely better manifested than in a Red Hands context — could yet serve to light the way ahead.

Several of the more senior Tyrone players including Sean Cavanagh, Brian Dooher, Ryan McMenamin, Enda McGinley, Brian McGuigan, Conor Gormley and Owen Mulligan, all of whom have three All Ireland medals, were particularly close to Michaela and held her in the highest regard.

Indeed, some including Cavanagh, who described her death as “a catastrophe”, and teak-tough defender McMenamin, have been profuse in their tributes to her and clearly indicate that she can still offer a beacon for what will be a difficult road ahead.

Prior to joining the Tyrone squad at the funeral, Dromore clubman McMenamin reflected on the positive stance that Michaela invariably took on every issue.

“With her, nothing was ever impossible or lost,” he said.

“She would always find a positive. Any time after a defeat she had the ability to find something that went right for Tyrone and she would keep going on about bigger things being ahead of us.

“With her, there was always the prospect that we would bounce back.

“Sean Cavanagh has made the point that she lived her life so perfectly. The main things in her life were her husband, her family, her teaching and her football. She never went out to do anyone any harm and that’s what makes it so hard for us to understand this tragedy.”

Cavanagh, a player particularly devastated by Michaela’s death, said: “Michaela set a great example for us all — she had great pride in her father as a manager, and was enormously proud of her county.”

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