Fury as GAA star's alleged attacker escapes a life ban
A player suspected of a brutal assault which left a young Fermanagh GAA star fighting for his life has been banned for less than two years.
Mark McGovern suffered serious head injuries after being knocked unconscious during a match in the United States nearly two months ago.
The incident occurred during Mark's first game after arriving in America to play for the San Francisco Ulster club.
Yesterday it emerged that Patrick Power, who had been named as a "person of interest" by San Francisco police, has been banned for 96 weeks.
However, there is anger at the fact Power escaped a life ban.
Joe Duffy, the chairman of the San Francisco club, hit out at the ruling, claiming it was not consistent with other suspensions.
"There have been a couple of cases where an official has been injured in games and it's led to life bans," he said.
"Mark has a brain injury, we don't know the long-term consequences, he nearly died and yet they only give this guy a ban of less than two years.
"It makes no sense to me. There's no equity," said Mr Duffy.
Eamonn Gormley, who headed the San Francisco Competitions Control Committee, said the incident had been fully investigated.
"It was the maximum penalty and we believe that it was a fair outcome," he said.
Mark, from the Belcoo O'Rahilly's club in Fermanagh, came out of a coma in the last fortnight and is continuing his recovery in an acute rehabilitation unit in California.
His parents and sisters travelled to the United States and have been by his bedside throughout his ordeal. However, they have now been left facing medical bills of over $1m.
A special committee has been set up to help raise funds for his medical treatment.
A fundraising event will take place tomorrow night in Blacklion, Co Cavan.
Anyone convicted of serious violent conduct on a GAA pitch can face a life ban from the sport. Last month two men were banned for life following a fracas at a Tyrone ladies GAA match in which a official was assaulted and a referee left unconscious.