It may be ‘ a long way to Tipperary’ but most certainly it was a much longer journey that Mark McGovern embarked on recently – a journey of 18 days by land and sea, since his Doctors in USA had deemed him ‘unfit to travel by air.
The 23 yrs old arrived back at his Fermanagh home – in Belcoo – earlier this week according to BBC Northern Ireland Sport. As SportsNewsIreland readers will recall Mark was left in a coma in an off the ball incident as he played in his first Gaelic Football game after arriving in the United States last June.
Indeed he had been in San Francisco for less than a week when he was seriously injured whilst playing for the Ulster club there against the San Francisco Celts. A Celts player, Patrick Power was subsequently banned by the GAA for 96 weeks .
After extensive treatment at San Francisco General Hospital, Mark was to make what the Surgeons and Physio teams in San Francisco described as a ‘miraculous recovery’.
The BBC reports that the first leg of his 5,000 mile journey was from the west coast to New York by train, then a 10-day boat journey to Southampton.
Next, a long drive to Holyhead and another boat to Dublin and up to Belcoo and home.
Getting home again, hardly surprisingly, brought great joy to the courageous man from the Belcoo O’Rahilly’s club.
“It’s amazing to get through the front gates of the house, to get to the front door and not be assisted by anyone,” he said.
“There’s no place like home”.
“It’ll be hard to get my normal life back, obviously, very hard. The only goal I’ve set is to become a single handicapper playing golf.
“That’s my first thought. I know I can’t play football anymore so it’s given me time to concentrate on golf. It’ll be golf every day now – weather depending!”
One thing is sure and that is for his great spirit and courage alone, Mark McGovern will be a most deserving winner of whatever awards come his way in the weeks and months ahead.He in turn is the first to acknowledge the tremendous care, love and support he has had throughout his ordeal from his loving family, his friends at home and abroad, and supporters of all sports wherever they may be.
The GAA , and indeed all – Ireland should be proud of Mark McGovern and his family.