RAINEY Endowed have enjoyed tremendous success on the hockey field this season as several of their sides battle it out for silverware.
The 2nd XI have already claimed the McDowell Cup by defeating Lurgan College and the 3rd XI and the 1st XI will be hoping to follow suit.
The Rainey Endowed School has 350 girls with 140 playing hockey. Rainey fields 3 Senior Teams, 4 Junior Teams and four 8-a-side Form 1 Teams. The results have been excellent so far this year with the Form 1, 2 and 4 Teams winning their local area tournaments and all league teams are currently joint top of the Derry & Antrim Leagues.
For the first time in the history of the school, two senior teams have made it into Ulster Schools finals. The 1st XI play Ballymena in the Senior shield and the 3rd XI face Omagh Academy in the final of the Gibson Cup.
In addition to their senior success, the under 14 girls team have reached the final of the Ulster Schools Cup.
In the past four years the school has won the cup twice and lost twice at this age group. It is an extremely competitive competition with up to 44 schools from across the province taking part.
The standard is always very high and the girls have found this once again this year with some really tough matches. To reach the final, the girls defeated Friends School Lisburn 2-0, Glenlola Collegiate 2-1, Regent House 3-1, Belfast High School 3-1 and the cup holders the Royal School Armagh in the semi final 2-1.
On 29th February as the team travelled to the Royal School, Dungannon to play cup holders the Royal School Armagh in the semi finals, there was a real feeling of déjà vu as this was the same team and pitch that the team had played in the final last year.
Although the girls had already beaten Armagh earlier in the season it had been a home game and the score was only 2-1, so they knew they were in for a tough match.
The girls were very nervous as they realised they had a chance to reach the final, a really difficult stage of any cup competition. In a really competitive match the Rainey U14 Girls Hockey Team had to work hard for the whole game to play their best hockey. The team were unlucky to concede a goal in the first half from a well struck Armagh corner but continued to give their best and was rewarded when Rachel Burns went past three players on the left to give a well worked ball to Lauren McGookin on the left post to make it 1-1. The Rainey started the second half very well but still had to defend strongly to keep Armagh out but gradually managed to win more and more possession resulting in short corners.
While the girls dominated for much of this period and came tantalizingly close to scoring it took a well worked corner from Kirsty McLarnon and great finish from Edele Mallon to put the girls in to a 2-1 position with only 4 minutes to go.
The Rainey girls kept their heads (a lot better than most of the supporters and parents faired ) and this saw the Rainey win 2-1 and proceed to the Ulster Schools Junior Cup final for the fifth year in a row!
The Team was Kirsty McLarnon, Captain, Rebecca Johnston, Erin Mulholland, Aimee Stockman, Sarah Millar, Edele Mallon, Niamh Scullion, Diane Forsythe, Rachel Burns, Lauren Mulholland, Rebecca Johnston, Lauren McGookin, Tara Falkingham, Sarah Caldwell, Alice Hardy and Alex Burns.
Much of the recent success at Rainey Endowed is largely down to the opening of Meadowbank Sports Arena in January 2008, currently the largest of its kind in Europe, Meadowbank boasts a full size indoor astro turf hockey pitch passed by the FIH.
At club level the newly formed Rainey RFHC continues to thrive with the 1st XI Ladies team in the semi final of the Intermediate cup and the 2nd XI Ladies Team in the final of the Minor Cup. All youth teams are thriving with junior members representing 4 out of the 5 secondary schools in the town and mini’s coming from over 14 different primary schools.
Ulster Hockey have helped hugely in the development of hockey in the Magherafelt area through organized U11 & U13 Ulster blitz days, which run on a regularly basis once a month and also by running coaching development courses at different levels in Meadowbank.