Mark McGovern – how can the GAA HQ and GPA assist?

Belcoo O’Rahilly’s and Fermanagh Gaelic Football star , Mark McGovern (22) has been taken off the critical list by US doctors, but according to family and friends it is still too early to say if there will be any long term brain damage.

McGovern, as reported by SportsNewsIreland in June,  sustained serious head injuries in an off-the-ball incident a game  in San Francisco l and was put into a medically-induced coma.

He had only arrived in the United States,  for a three months stay, a week before the incident in what was his first game in the U.S.

McGovern’s parents, three sisters and girlfriend are all in the US to support his recovery. His father Danny McGovern said the family would stay there for as long as it takes until he can come home.

The players’ father ,Danny McGovern been critical of  the team who played against his son on the day he was injured, for not being more co-operative, with police investigating the incident.  The BBC reports that he said that the San Francisco Celts should be suspended from further games.

The incident has been widely covered by the media but not only in Ireland but also throughout the United States, including various TV and Radio reports.   Mark McGovern’s club, Belcoo O’Rahilly’s included  a latest update on their club website today:

“The Club received good news on Mark McGovern’s  condition on Sunday evening after his sister Grace posted the following on the Mark McGovern Support page on Facebook.

“Hey everyone, just another update on Mark’s progress. Mark is still currently in San Francisco General Hospital, it has now been 5 weeks since the incident. Mark’s condition has now improved from being critical to serious and he has come a very long way from the first week.

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

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, Mark has attempted a few steps with assistance. Please keep Mark in your prayers and thoughts as he has still a long way to go. Doctors and Nurses here in San Francisco General Hospital have been absolutely amazing. Mark is still at risk of infections so please please,please keep him in your prayers as it has definitely been everyone’s prayers, God’s help and Mark’s fight that has brought him this far.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful staff in San Francisco General Hospital for the excellent work they do every day and are continuing to do. Again thank you to all for your continued prayers and thoughts, we will be forever grateful. Mark is an inspiration to everyone, we are so so proud of him, from  shaking hands with Nurses to giving us a smile –  it is a true reflection on what a gentleman he is”

The Belcoo O’Rahilly’s club  asks that everyone continues to keep Mark and his family in our thoughts and prayers.

The Mark McGovern Support Fund has organised a fundraiser  in the Bush Bar,  Blacklion,  Co. Cavan on Thursday 18th August. There will be live music on the night by various local artists, a raffle and an auction while voluntary donations can be made at the door. The Fermanagh County Board and the supporters association Club Eirne will undoubtedly also wish to support Mark McGovern and his family at this time.

One  can make a contribution to the Mark McGovern Support Fund by clicking on the following link:

It is quite clear that the good name of the Gaelic Athletic Association is ‘on the line’ here, albeit Mark was playing in the USA at the time and one can but ask IF the GAA HQ is in contact with  its associates in the United States and is  using its best endeavours to persuade their local clubs to fully co-operate with the local Police enquiry?  What assistance, if any,  can the GAA HQ and the  Gaelic Players Association provide to Mark’s family at this time?  Medical expenses in the United States for this type of injury and long term care can easily exceed  500,000 USD for an enforced lengthy stay.

Above all let the GAA HQ persuade their U.S associates and particularly the clubs involved to provide all possible information. There is no place in the GAA – or indeed in any sport – for incidents of this nature,irrespective of where it takes place.

American media reports  claim that the  San Francisco Police have named  “a person of interest”  in the  McGovern investigation.

Investigators say that the ball was  nowhere near McGovern when someone hit him so hard he was knocked unconscious before being transferred to the 134 years old    San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

The McGovern family maintain their vigil  at Mark’s bedside at the Hospital.

“Mark came to San Francisco to play a wee bit of football; not to get killed,” said Josie McGovern, Mark’s Mother.

According to local media reports  , the San Francisco Police have indicated 27-year-old Patrick Power, a Celts player,as being  ‘ a person of interest’ .  During the investigation,it is reported that  Power hired an attorney and declined to talk to police.

Police enquiries suggest Power was seen standing over an unconscious McGovern.

“I would just say to him, ‘I don’t know how you’re sleeping at night,’” said Grace McGovern, Mark’s sister.

Mark’s father added: –  “With more information as to how it happened, it could be a big help to Mark’s life.”

“It’s been very difficult. It’s been the worst month in our lives”  according to Danny McGovern.

The family believe that they may have to remain in the Bay Area  for a year  at least  and  vow that they won’t go back home without him.

The tragic case of Mark McGovern is a matter which should also concern ALL young Irish men and women travelling to the United States, especially but to other countries too,  whether  on holiday, for a short stay as  in Mark’s case and those who emigrate. Even much less severe illnesses or injuries can result in horrific medical bills and the costs do not end there. An air ambulance, in a critical case, can cost an additional USD 100,000 or more.

The GAA family inc the GPA need to ensure that all  players are fully  aware of the risks faced, unless they have appropriate insurance that covers them whilst overseas  and standard travel insurance  policies MUST be extended to cover participation in sports  events, whether  Hurling, Football or any other sport.  Cover of at least 2  million dollars  for the United States is essential.


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