RAINEY ES 1 SULLIVAN UPPER 0
RaineyEndowed hosted Sullivan Upper at Meadowbank in the quarter finals of the Senior Ulster Schools Cup.
Tension had been building on both sides over a number of weeks and Rainey knew it was going to be a tough game.
In the opening half Rainey played some of the best hockey of the season with superb teamwork being displayed.
Rachel Burns made a skilful attack beating three Sullivan players only to have the keeper deny her an opening goal.
The midfielders Kirsty McLarnon, Robyn Chambers and Rachel Burns worked tirelessly to keep the forwards busy and the Sullivan defence under pressure.
As the Rainey supporters cheered, Nicole Heaney slotted a ball from the right side of the pitch which bounced off the keeper’s pad only to be picked up by Lauren Mulholland who placed it in the back of the net.
Rainey were ecstatic but knew they had to remain focused if they were to win the game. With Sullivan on the attack they were prevented from equalizing by some great individual tackles demonstrated by Nicola Sargent.
An inspirational team talk from Mrs Burns at half time renewed the team’s confidence and belief.
Sullivan upped the tempo in the second half, but the Rainey defence of Niamh scullion, Claire Mulholland, Tori Hastings, Nicola Sargent and Rebecca Allen kept their cool and confidentially moved the ball between them.
Rainey where unlucky not to convert a number of short corners which had been tactically won by Cara Sloan and Robyn Chambers. Sullivan never lost hope and in the dying seconds of the game they were awarded a short corner. The crowd fell silent but Rainey held their nerve to deny Sullivan an equalizer. The final whistle blew, the cheers erupted, and the Rainey girls were through to the semi-finals of the Ulster Senor Cup for the first time in 37years!
The team would like to thank the Rainey crowd for their tremendous support and hope to see them all again on the 5th February at Lisnagarvey.
While the junior teams have enjoyed considerable success over the last seven years, the Rainey Endowed Senior 1st XI have only ever reached the semi final of the Senior Schools Cup once before and that was 37 years ago, in 1977, under coach Pat Walls.
That year Rainey also went on to reach their first and to date only Senior Schools Hockey Cup final. Rainey’s success that year was built on a very strong defence and on their way to the final they conceded only 1 goal, beating Omagh Academy, Cookstown HS, Banbridge Academy, Ballymena Academy and Grosvenor Grammar.
In the final Rainey would meet Regent House. Neither school had won the Cup before and sadly for Rainey the game was settled by one late goal from Regent.
This year Rainey 1st XI has defeated Limavady Grammar, Portadown College and Sullivan Upper to reach the semi final.