Ten years ago Magherafelt was left without a senior hockey club when Rainey Old Girls folded due to a lack of players but now a phoenix has risen out of the ashes.
It may be a bit of a mouthful and apparently a contradiction in terms but the arrival of Rainey Rugby Football Hockey Club is a very welcome and successful development.
The completion of Meadowbank Sports Arena in January 2008 coincided with a revival of the sport in the area and the hard work of former Randalstown and Ireland player Carolyn Burns provided an additional driving force.
The new state of the art complex, the brainchild of Mr John McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Magherafelt District Council, is currently the largest of its kind in Europe.
It boasts an indoor synthetic playing surface which measures 137m x 70m to easily accommodate its full size hockey pitch and complies with all the requirements of the sport’s world governing body, the FIH.
Ulster Hockey now plays some sections of the U11 and U13 Leagues in Meadowbank Sports Arena and run coaching courses there.
Last year with the opening of Magherafelt High’s new school, hockey received an additional boast with another Astroturf pitch opened.
With this revived interest in hockey Rainey Old Boys RFC invited Carolyn Burns, who is Head of PE at Rainey Endowed, to start a hockey section in the club.
The Rainey RFHC was born and has been in existence now for five years and the club has already enjoyed great success with the U11, U13, U15, 1st XI, 2nd XI and veteran teams.
“Club coaches Richard McGaw and Colin Barnes both from Cookstown HC, have proved to be an outstanding successful duo,” Burns explained.
“Richard is in the ideal position where he also umpires for the school senior teams on Saturdays and so provides a natural link to the club.
“The Rainey schoolgirls coach the ‘minis’ on a Friday evening, again providing an ideal school-club link with 11 of the girls receiving their 200 hour Millennium Volunteers award this year.
“Two teachers from Magherafelt High School, Geoff Burns and Lanet McGinnis coach the clubs U13 girls providing an essential link with the High school, while Roger Talbot coaches the U15 girls,” she added.
“This is a significant development for hockey in the town of Magherafelt, with Rainey RFHC providing more coaching and playing opportunities for all hockey players.”