Patrick Power, the Gaelic Athletic League (GAA) player who assaulted Mark McGovern in June, sending him into a coma, has been handed a 96 week suspension.
But the ruling has been strongly criticized by Ulster San Francisco club chairman Joe Duffy, who feels it does not adequately match the seriousness of the incident.
The footballer, who hailed from County Fermanagh, was knocked unconscious during a San Francisco senior championship game seven weeks ago and he finally emerged from a coma in the past fortnight. The incident has created a rift in GAA circles in the Bay Area that is now being exacerbated by what many of Mc Govern’s teammates view as a too lenient punishment.
Mark McGovern’s family say no witnesses have come forward to attack
Coma footballer is $1 million in debt in San Francisco
Miracle as Injured GAA player Mark McGovern wakes up from coma
But Eamonn Gormley, who led the San Francisco Competitions Control Committee investigating the case, defended the decision.
'Both clubs co-operated fully and we were fully satisfied about the investigation. It was the maximum penalty and we believe that it was a fair outcome,' he told the Irish Examiner.
Duffy countered this assertion, saying that he believed it was not consistent with other GAA suspensions. 'It doesn’t seem fair,' he said. 'There have been a couple of cases where an official has been injured in games and it’s led to life bans.
Mark has a brain injury, we don’t know the long-term consequences, he nearly died and yet they only give this guy a ban of less than two years. It makes no sense to me.
'There’s no equity. Mark’s medical bills are over a million dollars and that’s no exaggeration. His family are over from Ireland. The whole thing has been awful. At the end of the day, Mark is improving. We can be grateful for that.'
San Francisco police had named Power as a 'person of interest in the investigation but have so far failed to find anyone able to provide a witness statement.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore