Lauren fuels Rainey's quest to create slice of Schools' Cup history
Friends School Lisburn 0-2 Rainey Endowed
Lauren Mulholland recalls all too well the memory of Rainey Endowed losing the one and only time the Magherafelt school reached the Belfast Telegraph Schools' Cup final, back in 2014.
But the striker, just one of two survivors from that defeat four years ago and now in her final year at school, played a key role as Rainey reached this season's decider by beating Friends School Lisburn 2-0 at Stormont Playball.
Lauren scored Rainey's opener and continually tested the Friends defence as she edged closer to her dream of being part of a team which wins the prestigious trophy for her school for the first time in the competition's 112-year history.
Now Carolyn Burns' girls turn their attention to the March 7 decider against Banbridge Academy at the same venue, a final that promises to be a thriller.
It took Mulholland just 12 minutes to put Rainey ahead when she collected the ball at the edge of the circle and slammed it home on the backhand through a mass of defenders, giving the unsighted Friends goalkeeper Cara McEwan no chance.
Holders Banbridge Academy and Rainey Endowed smashed their way through to the final of the Belfast Telegraph Schools'...Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Wednesday, February 21, 2018
And she could have added more in the first half, having another effort saved by McEwan and then firing another shot on the reverse narrowly wide.
Rainey looked comfortable on the ball but Friends were dangerous on the counter-attack, and a couple of times it needed Erin Mulholland to keep the Magherafelt girls in the hunt, saving with her pads, kicking clear and rushing out to cut out danger.
But the game was put beyond Friends midway through the second half when Andrea Hegarty got Rainey's second.
She latched onto a through ball and just managed to divert it past the onrushing keeper and into the far corner of the net.
Friends refused to lie down, and inspirational skipper Rachel Barnes had a penalty corner well saved. Then, a tremendous 60-yard pass by Rachel Geddis set up Amy Brown but her cross into the circle was cut out by the onrushing keeper.
Alex Burns, a tower of strength at the heart of the Rainey defence, almost got a third right at the death but it was ruled out for being struck marginally outside the circle.
FRIENDS: Cara McEwan, Emma Harkin, Olivia Agnew, Rachel Barnes, Erin Aiken, Lucy Fitzpatrick, Tyla Eley, Kate Hamill, Amy Brown, Lauren Irwin, Olivia Reid, Jessica Sandford, Rachel Geddis, Rachel Kennedy, Cathy Fox, Ella Agnew, Kayla Hall, Bethany Au.
RAINEY ENDOWED: Erin Mulholland, Charlotte Beggs, Erin Anderson, Alexandra McKinlay, Andrea Hegarty, Betty Scott, Gabi Scott, Ellie Montgomery, Cara Brown, Alex Burns, Lauren Mulholland, Ellen Campbell, Sara Semple, Honor Graham, Sarah Thomson, Ellie Stewart, Dawn Francis