Footballer ‘making progress’ after one-punch attack

Institute midfielder Niall Grace. INLS1616-128KM
Institute midfielder Niall Grace. INLS1616-128KM

A footballer who was hospitalised and later placed in an induced coma after an alleged ‘one punch’ attack is now concious, able to talk and recognise family and friends.

Niall Grace, a midfielder with Institute FC, was left fighting for his life after an alleged ‘one-punch attack’ in Londonderry two weeks ago. Niall (23) suffered serious head injuries and was placed in a medically induced coma after the incident, which took place in the early hours of September 11 on Waterloo Street in Londonderry’s city centre.

He has already undergone major surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to relieve swelling and a clot on the brain.

His club has now issued a statement outlining the “significant progress” he has made.

“The Grace family have contacted the club to say that Niall has made significant progress over the last few days,” the Waterside club said.

“He is conscious and talking and able to recognise family and friends.

“He has also been moved from the intensive care unit to a main hospital ward where his progress will continue to be monitored.

“Whilst Niall is still showing signs of confusion and frustration, the family are hopeful that his condition will continue to improve over the coming weeks. Finally, the Grace family would like to extend their sincere thanks and appreciation for the love and generosity they have been shown during this difficult time.”

Institute FC, in a previous statement, paid tribute to their player and issued a donation appeal for members of the public to help pay for the family’s travel costs to and from the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

The statement read: “As a gesture of concern and support, Institute Football Club have launched this appeal in order to mitigate the pressures that Niall’s family must be experiencing. We have consulted with Niall’s family, and whilst they are not personally predisposed to seek help at this time, they have given us permission to organise this appeal in order to facilitate an expression of support from both the football family and the wider community. Consequently, we would greatly appreciate any financial support you could offer at this time.

“Niall is a key player for Institute Football Club and he is held in the highest esteem by his team mates and everyone associated with the club. Indeed, we have been asked to convey the concerns and best wishes of many individuals, clubs, and associations who all hope and pray that he will eventually make a full recovery. In the meantime, our objective, with your support, is to provide both practical and emotional support for his family.”

The link to donate can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/niallgrace

A man has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Matthew McDermott (22), of Cornshell Fields, Londonderry, is accused of grievous bodily harm with intent, and possession of the class A drug, ecstasy.