GAA PLAYER MARK McGovern has woken from a month-long coma in the United States.
The 20-year-old Fermanagh native sustained serious head injuries in an off-the-ball incident during a Gaelic football match in San Francisco and was put into a medically-induced coma.
He had arrived in the US the week before for a planned three-month stint playing with the Ulster Club San Francisco.
BBC Northern Ireland quotes the player’s sister – who kept a four-week vigil, with her parents – as saying that McGovern is on the road to recovery.
“We are delighted that he has opened his eyes and been able to communicate,” she said.
“He hasn’t been able to talk yet, however, he can whisper slowly and we can lip read if he wants something. It’s small steps but certainly the right steps and we are happy.”
A police investigation was launched after the incident while McGovern’s father, Danny, criticised the opposing team.
Joe Duffy, the coach of Ulster San Francisco, said he didn’t see the incident, but said one of his players saw the alleged assailant standing over McGovern.
The player in question allegedly told McGovern “you won’t get up from that,” in an attack that led the victim to suffer seizures.
Police have since indicated that someone may have video-taped the game and the incident but no-one has yet come forward.
Danny McGovern described, before today’s news, the family’s ordeal to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday: ”It’s been the worst month ever in our lives. The doctors have told us it’s going to be a rollercoaster.
“There will be good days and bad days. He has been showing signs he might be able to recover but then you just don’t know what’s going to happen next.”