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Sunday 21 January 2018

GAA star off critical list as his family holds vigil

Eoin Reynolds in California

YOUNG GAA star Mark McGovern has been taken off the critical list by doctors in the US but they don't yet know if he has been left with permanent brain damage.

Speaking at San Francisco General Hospital, where they have held a vigil by Mark's bedside for the past five weeks, the McGovern family vowed to remain in the US until he recovered.

The 22-year-old from Belcoo, Co Fermanagh, has not uttered a word since suffering a near-fatal blow to the head during a football game in San Francisco last month but his family is not giving up hope.

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.

"Nothing is certain but the whole family is going to be here for as long as it takes until we can bring him home."

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. Without that it is challenging. We're asking for the public's help with the investigation."

She added that the man had hired an attorney and that all their contact had been through him.

Mark's sister Grace said: "I'd just like to say to him, how can you sleep at night?" She added: "Anyone who saw what happened and is covering up what happened that night, you might as well have hit Mark yourself."

Police believe there were witnesses who saw how Mark suffered his injury but they are not coming forward. Doctors have also issued a plea on behalf of Mark, saying that his chances of recovery will improve vastly if they know how he suffered his injuries.

The Celts club has not responded to requests for media interviews and its website was deleted in recent weeks.

Sunday Independent

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