Described as a serious athlete who paved the way for future rugby stars, Ballymote man David McGowan is currently in a North Carolina hospital recovering from a cardiac crisis.
The 34-year-old who was known among his coaches and fellow players as 'Shortie' took seriously ill on June 7th last and was rushed to hospital.
His first coach at Sligo Rugby Club, Brendan Leahy, told The Sligo Champion he is making a 'miraculous type of recovery'.
"It's great he's coming on, the news was really gloomy last week, he's going in the right direction," said Mr Leahy, who coached David when he joined the club at the age of 17.
The Ballymote native is described as now being in a critical but stable condition since becoming ill last week and his wife, and parents, Kieran and Joan are by his side in Charlotte, North Carolina.
His parents got over to the US over the weekend to be by his bedside.
The 6'3 athlete was the club's first professional rugby player to emerge from the Sligo club and went on to play with Connacht, Irish Youth and finished his professional career with French club, La Rochelle.
Only last Sunday Mr Leahy who is an avid cyclist said he noted David had completed a great cycle.
"I follow him on Strava [activity tracking app] and last Sunday it came in that he had done a big cycle, he was in great shape, as all professional athletes do when they retire, David kept himself in great shape."
Describing him as a 'serious athlete', Leahy said David took everything in his stride.
Coming from a Gaelic football background, David only picked up an oval ball at 17, but soon people could see his talent.
"He wasn't afraid of it, they get hit hard and he didn't run from it.
"I suggested him to the youth academy and he blossomed there."
Everyone at Sligo Rugby Club wished David a speedy recovery and extended thoughts and best wishes to his parents, wife and two children.
Ballymote GAA also extended best wishes to David and his family.
The club said: "Ballymote GAA Club send prayers and support to a former underage player David McGowan who became unwell last week.
"David has a County U-16 A winners medal as well as many more before he embarked a very successful professional rugby career."