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Mark McGovern: 'It'll be a quiet year for me'

The 23-year-old, who’s still recovering from the effects of the serious head injury that brought him to public attention this summer, admits he’s been left overwhelmed and “embarrassed” by the charitable support he’s received.

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

MARK McGOVERN MADE headlines in June when an alleged assault during a Gaelic football match in San Francisco left him comatose, with a low likelihood of recovery.

The 23-year-old defied the odds, however, first to regain consciousness and then to begin a rehabilitative programme at which he has thus far excelled.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Des Cahill this afternoon, the footballer described his return to Fermanagh– a journey that, owing to the potential dangers of air travel, took nearly two weeks– as being accompanied with “a sense of relief”.

The man alleged to have carried out the assault, Patrick Power of the San Francisco Celts, has become the subject of an ongoing police investigation and been issued with a 96-week ban from competition since the incident.

McGovern’s memories of the incident, however, are far from lucid:

“The lad hit me a couple of times. I gave him a box just to let him know I was there, but he kept hitting me… Later on, when I ran forward to help take a ball, he pretty much came up and whacked me. I can’t really remember what happened afterwards.”

Though he’s made incredible progress since regaining consciousness, successfully relearning a host of basic skills, McGovern concedes that his road to recovery is far from over.

“My speech still has to be worked on; my balance, too, has a lot to said for it… I’ll have rehab running for the next six months, probably longer. I can’t work, can’t drive and can’t drink, either. It’ll be a quiet year for me.”

In addition to exacting a harsh emotional cost, the saga has also pushed the McGovern family to the brink of financial catastrophe. Mark’s medical bills, excluding the mounting costs of his domestic rehabilitation, currently exceed $1.2m.

Those who wish to donate to contribute to the alleviation of that debt should visit www.support4markmcgovern.com.

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