Belfast Telegraph

Family's relief as injured GAA man out of coma in US

By Adrian Rutherford

The sister of a GAA player who was seriously injured during a match in the US has described him as an inspiration after he woke from a coma and started to communicate with his family.

Fermanagh footballer Mark McGovern sustained serious head injuries during an off-the-ball incident for the Ulster GAA San Francisco club in June.

His parents and three sisters travelled to the United States and have been by his bedside during the last five weeks.

They were present when Mark regained consciousness after waking from a coma, and have been able to communicate with him.

His sister Grace said his progress has been remarkable.

"From being told Mark may not make it through the first night to beating a liver condition, pneumonia and MRSA alongside his brain injury, he has fought everything that has been put in front of him," she said.

"Mark has now regained consciousness and is fully aware of his surroundings and everyone around him. Mark is yet to talk but has been trying to lip words in order to communicate with us, and has attempted a few steps with assistance."

Describing her brother as an inspiration to everyone, she added: "We are so, so proud of him - shaking hands with nurses to giving us a smile, it is a true reflection on what a gentleman he is."

Mark had travelled to San Francisco to play GAA football for the summer with two other Belcoo team-mates, and had arrived just a week before the injury occurred.

He was left unconscious after the incident, which involved an opposing player from the San Francisco Celts.

After being rushed to San Francisco General Hospital, Mark was put into an induced coma. His family have been by his side throughout his fight for life.

Grace said they were indebted to the hospital's medical team who had helped care for Mark.

"The doctors and nurses here in San Francisco General Hospital have been absolutely amazing," she added in the message posted on Facebook.

"I would like to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful staff for the excellent work they do everyday and are continuing to do."

Meanwhile, another sister, Helen, said Mark has made "small steps, but the right steps".

"We are delighted that he has opened his eyes and been able to communicate," she said.

Although now off the critical list, Helen said the family face an anxious wait to see if there is any brain damage.

"We think that his memory seems to be okay, but the doctors can not give any definite answers as to how he will be in the long term and what long term affects he may have," she added.

Deirdre Donnelly from the Fermanagh County Board said everyone was delighted that Mark was making progress.

Background

Every year around 400 Irish players transfer temporarily to a North American GAA club for the summer period. Mark McGovern (right), who plays for the Belcoo O'Rahilly's club, had lined out for Ulster GAA San Francisco after travelling to the States. The 22-year-old played for the county in this year's Dr McKenna Cup.

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