Family vigil as assault victim placed in medically induced coma following brutal attack

Assault: Stephen Donegan is still in critical condition following the attack
Assault: Stephen Donegan is still in critical condition following the attack

A HEARTBROKEN Irish family is maintaining a vigil by their son's UK hospital bedside following a brutal assault in Liverpool city centre.

GAA player Stephen 'Stevie' Donegan (24) remains in a critical condition in the Walton Centre NHS foundation at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, which is a specialist treatment centre.

He was placed in a medically-induced coma with severe head trauma.

Mr Donegan is from Shanballymore outside Castletownroche, Co Cork. A graduate of Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), he is the son of Con Donegan, who is well-known in the north-Cork area as a political activist.

Mr Donegan has been working as a farm manager in north Cork and had travelled to Liverpool to attend a party for a friend. It is understood he was also hoping to attend the Liverpool-Blackburn FA Cup quarter-final fixture at Anfield during the trip if they secured tickets.

The young man is a keen sports fan and has taken part in charity fun runs in the Ballyhoura Mountains. He is also a dedicated GAA player and regularly attends matches at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Croke Park and Semple Stadium.

Mr Donegan is the goalkeeper for Shanballymore GAA Club and will celebrate his 25th birthday in August. He won an U-21 Cork GAA double with Shanballymore in 2009 and 2011 and also won a north Cork football title in 2012 and a Division 2 hurling title in 2007.

Last year, he wrote in the club notes about the importance of the GAA to Irish village life.

"The craic we have as a team (is fantastic) and when we do bring a cup back to the village you can see how important GAA is to the community," he wrote.

Family friend Councillor Kevin O'Keeffe said everyone in the community is praying for Stevie's safe recovery.

"I know his family very well and they are absolutely lovely people," the Fianna Fail councillor said.

"(Stevie) is a keen GAA player and I know that he loves every type of sport. It is a terrible situation for any family to find themselves in."

A 19-year-old from Liverpool has been charged in relation to the assault. A serving British soldier has appeared in court in Liverpool charged over the attack on the Cork man. 

Ralph Riegel 

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