In early August, McGovern was transferred to Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco to undergo an intense regime of rehabilitation. His daily routine included speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Doctors told the family that McGovern had a long road to recovery.
“He couldn’t brush his own teeth, he couldn’t feed himself, couldn’t eat certain foods, and he could barely stand,” Grace recalls.
It was Mark’s girlfriend, Jessica, who played an instrumental role in him regaining his speech.
“It was Jessica, my girlfriend, she got me talking again. She got me to say my name and where I am from,” McGovern recalls.
After almost two months of rehabilitation, the young Fermanagh man has stunned healthcare professionals with his dramatic recovery. At the end of August he was released from full-time care and remains a daily outpatient visitor.
Still undergoing daily rehabilitation therapy, McGovern’s determination has played a pivotal role in his recuperation. “I am trying really hard. They are pushing me harder. That’s all the better for me as I like hard!,” he says.
McGovern is due to travel home to Ireland at the end of this month by boat, “My brain doctors advised me not to travel by plane,” he says, adding that the return can’t come soon enough.
“I can’t wait to go home and watch TV and eat Irish food,” he said.
Speaking about the other player involved in the incident, McGovern described the 96-week ban as disgraceful, adding he has some questions for the Celts GAA player.
“I would love to know why and what was his problem,” McGovern said. “I would like to get inside his head and say, ‘What were you thinking?’”
Though he will no longer be able to play Gaelic football, McGovern has a refreshing positive outlook.
“That was very hard but I looked at the bigger picture. It was my life at one stage, but I will definitely be involved in the club as manager or trainer,” he said.
Fundraising efforts both at home and abroad have begun to contribute to McGovern’s mounting medical bills. Although he had taken out insurance for his summer trip to the U.S., it did not cover contact sports. As a result the family are left with a crippling debt.
A fundraising event will take place in Yonkers this Sunday at 3 p.m. at Moriarty’s, 986 McLean Avenue. Check donations can be mailed to Mark Owen McGovern Rehab, c/o Mark McGovern Fund, 117 Dalewood Way, San Francisco, California 94127. For more information log onto http://www.support4markmcgovern.com/
Both McGovern and his family would like to express their sincere gratitude for the support they have received thus far.
“We will be forever grateful,” Grace said.
The family would also like to appeal for any eyewitnesses to the attack to come forward.