UPDATE: "You won't get up from that," opposing player allegedly tells gravely injured athlete.
The San Francisco Police Department is investigating an "off-the-ball" incident that left 22-year-old Gaelic football player Mark McGovern in a coma Saturday night.
Just what transpired to put McGovern into General Hospital is not clear at this time. Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza would only describe it as "some kind of on-field incident. There's an investigation but there's no arrest and nothing further." The police are still searching for eyewitnesses -- their anonymous tip line is (415) 575-4444.
Joe Duffy, the coach of McGovern's Ulster San Francisco club told the BBC that he and his colleagues have identified the opposing player involved in "the incident" and filed a police report. Our messages for Duffy have not yet been returned. SF Weekly has heard rumors among players in the San Francisco Gaelic Athletic Association that McGovern was involved in "a fracas." Teammate Terence Tracey notes, "I was playing in the game and did not see the incident, it was off the ball. ... To my knowledge you will not get an eyewitness."
Ulster's opponent in Saturday night's Treasure Island contest, Celts, is described on the SFGAA website as being "mostly made up of American-born players. We are keen to get more American-born people into our games."
Calls to Celts' players have not yet been returned.
Gaelic Football is a physical game resembling a blend of soccer and Australian Rules football. It is one of Ireland's national pastimes; there as here its players are strictly amateur.
McGovern plays for a club called Belcoo O'Rahilly in Northern Ireland. A release on the team's website notes that "all Mark's Immediate Family, Parents Danny & Josie, Sisters Connie, Helen & Grace ... his Uncle Bernard along with his Girlfriend Jessica and Lorna (Jessica's mother) are currently with him in San Francisco."
The club has been flooded with messages from well-wishers. The SFPD's Esparza notes that he has been deluged with calls from Ireland as well.
Update, 1:15 p.m.: Ulster coach Joe Duffy says he didn't see the incident -- but heard one of his players tell the police he witnessed a Celts player standing over a prone McGovern and saying "you won't get up from that." Game officials also spoke with police following the game.
Duffy ran onto the field 10 minutes into the second half when he was alerted that one of his players was down. "I didn't even know who it was. Mark was unconscious. And he went from being in the fetal position to on his back and then he had seizures. At that time, we didn't know what happened. We were obviously more concerned with getting Mark some medical attention."
The coach says that there was no noticeable "fracas" between McGovern or any opposing player. "The game was not played in a bad-tempered way." The SFPD has been given the identity of the Celts player noted above.
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