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Watch: Rainey Endowed stars react to 'dream' Schools' Cup success

Words by Graham Hamilton, Video by Gareth Hanna

It's hard to believe, but it's the sort of stuff you dream about when you go to bed at night - that was Rainey Endowed skipper Erin Mulholland's take on her team's achievement of winning the Belfast Telegraph Schools' Cup for the first time in their history.

Erin, of course, played a major part to ensure the Magherafelt school's name would finally be engraved on the trophy after two previous failed attempts.

During the game, the Rainey goalkeeper had to face seven Banbridge Academy penalty corners, but none got past her as her side earned a 1-1 draw in normal time and also after extra time.

Then it was on to penalty strokes, and that's where she really showed how good she is - three times she dived to save Banbridge strokes to earn an overall 3-1 success in the shoot-out.

Rainey Endowed are the Belfast Telegraph Schools' Cup champions for the first time! 🏆 Watch what captain Erin Mulholland...

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Thursday, March 8, 2018

And what did it feel like to finally be part of a team that wins the trophy for your school?

"One of the finest feelings you can ever imagine," said an ecstatic Erin.

"It was euphoric at the end - everybody came running and jumped on top of me, and then we had hundreds of schoolmates running on to the pitch. Hugs all round!

"I was in the 2014 team when we lost in the final, and this is my last year, so what a way to go.

"We stuck to our game plan, worked hard throughout and it paid dividends."

It was Cara Brown who scored the Rainey equaliser just when it seemed the game was drifting away from them.

"Andrea Hegarty had a shot and their keeper padded it out," recalled Cara.

"It was coming straight to me, so I was able to slam it into the corner.

"Normally I play more defensively, but I was pushed further up at that point... and I'm glad I was."

Coach Carolyn Burns was naturally proud of her girls and what they had achieved.

"We had a game plan and it worked," said Carolyn. "But the girls put in so much effort to ensure it worked.

"There are more cuts and bruises on them than I've ever seen before, as they put their bodies on the line. It's a great experience for them, and then there was Gabi Scott, who was playing alongside her sister Betty. Gabi is just 13 - what an experience it will have been for her."

Carolyn didn't reveal what her game plan was, but part of it was surely to mark Banbridge starlet Katie McKee.

Charlotte Beggs followed Katie for much of the afternoon, and so the midfielder had less space in which to weave her magic.

Banbridge Academy coach Neil Madeley was magnanimous in defeat despite knowing that his team spread the ball around and created the most chances.

"I can't fault our girls for they played very well,"he said.

"But on the day our penalty corners didn't work, nor did our penalty strokes. I'm sure the school will be back for more finals in the future," he added.

Overall there was a tremendous atmosphere at the Stormont venue.

Fleets of coaches had ferried pupils from both schools to the ground... and they made some noise.

There was a drum beat, a cheer-leader with a megaphone, school flags, painted faces ... and even two small dogs wearing Rainey shirts!

Afterwards, the two captains, Rainey's Erin Mulholland and Banbridge's Katie McKee, cut a special cake which had the logos of Ulster Hockey, sponsors Belfast Telegraph, and the two school crests on the icing on top.

A nice touch to finish the day.

Belfast Telegraph

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