A Fermanagh footballer who suffered severe head injuries in a GAA game in San Francisco this summer, has described his recovery from a coma as a “miracle”.

Mark McGovern (23) was the victim of an off-the-ball attack in June which left him in a coma for over a month.

"One of my doctors told me that I was 97.5% dead," he told the BBC Newsline.

"At that stage I really really did think of it as a miracle how bad I was.

"I never even knew how bad a shape I was until I was speaking to the doctor.

"It was a shock to know that I was that close to death, so it's just amazing that I even came out of it."
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Professor Shirley Stiver a neurosurgeon at San Francisco General Hospital told the BBC that McGovern was very lucky to be alive.

“The kind of injury that Mark has was deep inside the brain, it's the kind of injury that we see when someone has had a high speed motor vehicle accident, like 60-miles an hour, the car rolls over,” she said.

“In many times similar patients with a very similar neurological exam, a very similar x-ray picture would have died on the scene.”

“Two weeks into his ICU stay we were fighting to save his life,” Stiver added.

McGovern’s parents and sisters maintained a vigil while the young Fermanagh man was in a coma.

He is now undergoing rehabilitation at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco. The Mark McGovern Rehabilitation Fundraising Committee was established to raise funds for his mounting hospital bills, which already exceed $1 million.

The incident occurred a mere five days after McGovern had arrived in San Francisco when his Ulster team played the San Francisco Celts.

The other player accused of being involved in the incident was Patrick Power. He was handed down a 96-week suspension by the San Francisco GAA Competition Control Committee.

Watch BBC’s Newsline’s video report here.