Footballer Niall Grace left critical after one-punch attack 'making progress'
A footballer who was left in a critical condition after a serious assault in the centre of Londonderry has made significant progress, according to his family.
Institute FC midfielder, Niall Grace, was left fighting for his life after an alleged 'one-punch attack' while on a night out in his native city two weeks ago.
Niall (23) suffered serious head injuries and was placed in a medically induced coma after the Waterloo Street incident in the early hours of September 11.
He had already undergone major surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to relieve swelling and a clot on the brain.
But he now appears to be out of danger and has been moved out of intensive care and into a main hospital ward.
Doctors caring for the Irish League footballer had warned his family that any progress will come in "small steps". While in the coma, Niall, from the Shantallow area, developed a chest infection which put extra pressure on him.
Last week, a scan had shown no change in his brain, and doctors had planned to bring him out of the induced coma in order to establish if it had been damaged.
Last night, Institute issued a statement on social media to announce the good news that Niall appeared to be making the first steps to recovery. "The Grace family have contacted the club to say that Niall has made significant progress over the last few days," the Drumahoe club said.
"He is conscious and talking and able to recognise family and friends.
"He has also been moved from the intensive care unit to a main hospital ward where his progress will continue to be monitored.
"Whilst Niall is still showing signs of confusion and frustration, the family are hopeful that his condition will continue to improve over the coming weeks. Finally, the Grace family would like to extend their sincere thanks and appreciation for the love and generosity they have been shown during this difficult time."
A man has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.
Matthew McDermott (22), of Cornshell Fields, Derry, is accused of grievous bodily harm with intent, and possession of the class A drug, ecstasy.