The condition of a young Irishman who suffered major head trauma during a Gaelic football match on Treasure Island on Saturday is improving, but remains critical, hospital officials said Wednesday.
Police are investigating the off-the-ball incident during the second half of the football match that resulted in 22-year-old Mark McGovern, of Ireland, hospitalized in a coma at San Francisco General Hospital.
McGovern reportedly arrived in the Bay Area last week to play Gaelic football for three weeks. He was playing for Ulster of the San Francisco Gaelic Athletic Association, a league that often recruits top athletes from Ireland.
Ulster San Francisco coach Joe Duffy told The San Francisco Examiner that the club has identified the player involved in the incident.
San Francisco police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said Wednesday McGovern’s teammates noticed he was on the ground and saw American players on the opposing team standing over him.
An Ulster player told police at the scene that he’d heard a player on the opposing team, the Celts, say, “You won’t get up from that.”
There have been no arrests or suspects identified, Esparza said. Police are interviewing players, coaches and umpires and asking the public to provide any additional information about the case.
Duffy said he believes the dispute was a freak and isolated incident that had nothing to do with bad blood between the teams.
“The game wasn’t a dirty game of football,” Duffy said. “We all get along good. This was a very serious injury and very unusual.”
McGovern’s family has flown to the United States to be at his bedside. He is listed in critical but stable condition in the intensive care unit at San Francisco General Hospital.
Belcoo O’Rahilly’s, McGovern’s Irish team, said in a statement that young footballer was “exceptionally talented” and one of the most decorated players of the team.
“The entire community is very saddened and concerned for Mark,” a post on Belcoo O’Rahilly’s official website said.
Duffy said McGovern was in San Francisco on a student visa with two other Irish recruits. The trio lived in the South of Market area. McGovern, who had just finished college, was impressed with The City in his first week living here, Duffy said.