It’s been a bad year for Fermanagh man Mark McGovern. After embarking on a J1 summer visa to San Francisco last summer, the 23-year-old ended up in a coma after an off-the-ball attack during a gaelic football game in late June.

As his parents Danny and Josie, sisters Grace, Connie and Helen and girlfriend Jessica rushed to his side, doctors gave a less than hopeful prognosis.

“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 crashing at 60-miles an hour and the car rolls over,” Professor Shirley Stiver, a neurosurgeon at San Francisco General Hospital told the BBC.

Mark made a miraculous recovery. He is now back home with his family in the Fermanagh village of Belcoo, after a mammoth 18-day journey by land and sea. He reflected on the serious head injuries he sustained.

"I was nearly killed, really, when you think about it. The person who did this should be got for trying to kill me," he told the Impartial Reporter.

However, Mark, says his strong faith is something that is "very important" to him, and that he has no bitterness towards the person.

"I don't hate him, I forgive him. If I was with him now I'd ask him, why? Why do this to me? I do forgive him though. I have nothing but forgiveness for the person who assaulted me as I actually feel sorry for him to have carried out such an horrible attack.

"I'm in a much better position than he is now, but I'd be lying to say I have forgotten about the whole ordeal because I still get a bit down - it just hasn't set in my head yet."


GAA player Mark McGovern thankful of second chance after critical injury

Mark McGovern completes 18-day journey back to Ireland

Finding loved ones before Christmas after decades apart

Reflecting on his life this time last year, he admits life his daily existence has dramatically changed since the accident.

"I had a job, I was going out at the weekend, I was able to buy presents. I can't do much of that this year, and I am around the house a lot. Things definitely aren't the same," he said.

Talking about his remarkable recover, he says it would not have been possible without his family and his beloved girlfriend Jessica.

"She was the first in and I was in tears because I was not fit to do anything. It was then she started to get me talking, and for that I will be forever grateful to my Jessica. Only for her I believe I may not have been home until this December rather then October. She really was my shoulder I could lean on during that time and still is. My family have been very good to me from the start; they have been looking after me well. I am very grateful, of course I am," he said.