Two best friends from Portadown are thought to be the first pair of schoolgirls to complete a hockey double as both club and school champions.
Rebekah Lennon and Katie Herron, both 11, struck up a strong bond in nursery school which has paid dividends for the two hockey teams they play for.
Having become the club NI champions with Portadown for the second successive year, the girls did the double last Wednesday when they won the NI schools final with Seagoe Primary School.
Rebekah said: “We’ve always been best friends and we’ve always played hockey together at school. I used to play at Lurgan and then I moved to Portadown in P6.
“My two older sisters both played and my dad was coaching so that’s how I got into hockey.”
Rebekah, who also enjoys playing volleyball, said: “I’m hoping to play hockey for Ireland and Ulster.”
Katie, like Rebekah, has set herself the goal of making the Irish hockey team.
Katie, who also plays football for Linfield and the Northern Ireland development squad, said: “I really hope that Rebekah and I will stay in the same team right the way through until Ireland. Rebekah plays in centre midfield and I play on the wing, we’d pass the ball to each other a lot.”
Katie’s mum Jennifer said: “From the age of four I’ve never known them to have a fall out or a major argument.
“They have so much in common with each other – their lives are so busy, they bounce off each other and learn stuff off each other.”
She added: “The hours of training Katie puts into both sports make it worth it, especially getting the double – it’s just amazing and all in a few days of each other.”
Rebekah’s dad Ivor, a hockey coach, said: “Rebekah developed her strength and stability at Lurgan Boys’ Hockey Club where she was playing against 12-year-old boys when she was nine.”
He added: “Katie’s a fantastic player. She has genuine pace, changes direction in a split second and moves the ball like a brush stroke.
“The girls are picking up trophies for fun. It’s the friendship that is setting junior hockey on fire.”