GAA to widen insurance cover to players heading to US

The GAA is set to provide insurance cover for all players who travel from Ireland to play gaelic games for clubs in the United States.

This follows the case of Fermanagh footballer Mark McGovern who has been left facing medical bills of over $1m after sustaining serious head injuries during a game in San Francisco in June.

"We will have to take responsibility here," said GAA director general Paraic Duffy.

"We can't let that happen again."

Mr Duffy added: "What we hope to achieve is that in future any player going to play on a sanction in the States as Mark did will be covered by insurance from the GAA here."

The GAA director general added that the decision to extend the GAA's insurance scheme to Croke Park was as "a direct result of Mark McGovern's injury".

"With medical costs being so high in the US, it is an issue that we just can't ignore.

"It took the Mark McGovern case to sadly draw our attention to this."

Doctors say McGovern has made a "remarkable" recovery from his injuries.

He is out of hospital but is undergoing rehabilitation in California.

His goal is to get back to his original state of health and fitness and return home to Northern Ireland as soon as he is physically able to although he will not be able to play gaelic games again.

He had to learn how to walk and talk again but after intensive therapy medical experts said his progress had been remarkable and predict he will make a full recovery.

Mr McGovern's parents and three sisters maintained a vigil at his hospital bedside during the five-week period he was in a coma.

A lot of fundraising efforts have helped the family to cope with Mark's medical and rehabilitation costs in the US, which have exceeded $1m.

McGovern took out his own travel insurance for the US trip but his family later discovered that the Belcoo man was not covered for contact sports.