Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

US vigil for injured GAA star

The family of Fermanagh GAA player Mark McGovern was today waiting for tentative signs of recovery after he was taken off the critical list by doctors in the US.

The 22-year-old from Belcoo has not uttered a word since suffering a near-fatal blow to the head during a football game in San Francisco last month.

While he has now been taken off the critical list, his distraught family say they don't yet know if he has been left with permanent brain damage.

They are not giving up hope of a full recovery, however, as they keep a vigil at his hospital bedside in California.

Speaking at San Francisco General Hospital, where they have sat with Mark as he battled for life for the past five weeks, the McGovern family vowed to remain in the US until he recovered.

Heartbroken dad Danny McGovern said: "It's been the worst month ever in our lives. The doctors have told us it's going to be a rollercoaster. There will be good days and bad days. He has been showing signs he might be able to recover but then you just don't know what's going to happen next."

Sisters Grace (25), Helen (28), and Connie (30) are with Mark along with dad Danny and mother Josie. Mark's girlfriend of three years, Jessica Turley (21), has also travelled to the States to be by his side. Mark suffered severe head injuries during his first GAA game after arriving in America to play for the San Francisco Ulster club.

Police are investigating the incident and have named a player for the opposing San Francisco Celts GAA squad as a "person of interest" in the case.

As yet, police said nobody had come forward to tell them if they saw how Mark suffered his injuries and they were anxious to speak to witnesses.

It has also emerged that there was at least one cameraman filming the game in the area where Mark was when he suffered the near-fatal blow to the head.

The film has not been made available to police. A spokeswoman for San Francisco Police Department said: "We would urge anyone with information to come forward. The investigation will continue but we're trying to contact this person as it is imperative we speak to him. We're asking for the public's help with the investigation."

Doctors have also issued a plea on behalf of Mark, saying that his chances of recovery will vastly improve if they know how he suffered his injuries.

The Celts club has not responded to requests for media interviews.

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