Magherafelt R.F.C. was founded in 1928. Some success at minor level came the club's way before the outbreak of war. A few games were played during the war years and from 1947, the club became known as Rainey Old Boys R.F.C. After initial success, a barren period followed and it was not until the mid-60s that the club began to go places.


Magherafelt RFC circa 1928

Rainey Endowed School, coached by Dawson McConkey, became a power in Ulster and when Dawson joined the Old Boys as player/coach, they rose to the top of the junior ranks with a very talented young side. By the mid-70s, Rainey were the leading side in junior rugby in Ulster, winning most of the major trophies.

In 1982 the club went on tour to the Bahamas and the following year won the Town's Cup for the first time. On that team were twelve times capped Harry Steele and brother-in-law, Alan McLean, an Ulster regular who toured Australia with Ireland in 1979.

Rainey OB Towns Cup Winners 1983The President from 1984-1990 was Dr. A.A. McConnell (Bertie), who was a member of Ireland's Grand Slam side in 1948.

Rainey proved to be a good cup side but were relegated to Section 2 in 1986. They won Section 2 the following year but slipped back down again in 1994 despite reaching the Town's Cup final for the sixth time in twenty years. With former Ulster lock Charlie Simpson as player/coach, they won the Town's Cup in 2001 and were promoted as champions the following season.

Former Ballymena No. 8, John Andrews, took over as player/coach when Charlie moved on to Dungannon, and led the side to the Qualifying League 1 title in 2005. In the play-offs they beat Monivea 21-8 at home before losing 14-13 at Naas and 18-17 at Nenagh Ormond.


Having added some strength in depth to the squad, they started the next season by beating Ballymena 2s in the Past Players' Cup Final. After twelve straight wins in the league, they came unstuck at Armagh on New Year's Eve but regrouped to beat second placed Limavady 53-3 and retain the title. In the inaugural All-Ireland Junior Cup the luck of the draw helped them to beat Cork side Kanturk 47-9 and South Dublin outfit, Seapoint 31-12 at home. A big crowd travelled south to see them beat Youghal 27-5 at Lansdowne Road in the final on April 8th. Then on successive Saturdays, they beat Westport 36-0 away, Youghal 34-0 and Monkstown 32-16 at home to win the round robin play-offs and clinch their place in the All-Ireland League.


In 2008/09, With South African Rhys Botha as Player/Coach and Andrew Kerr as Captain, Rainey turned in some very promising performances in the Ulster League, beating Ballymena once again at Eaton Park.  A fine victory over Instonians at Shaw's Bridge earned them a home tie against U.C.D. in the second round.


They opened their AIL campaign with a win at Banbridge, but their aspirations of a top four finish disappeared when player after player joined the injured list, including Willem Jacobs, an overseas recruit from South Africa.  While their home form was strangely poor, they produced some battling displays at Suttonians, Ards and Sunday's Well to finish in 10th place.


Richard McCrea was captain for season 2009-2010.  Forty-seven players were used as player after player went down injured.  Limerick side Old Crescent were visitors in the Cup before the AIL got under way.  New Zealander Tony Dodunski picked up an injury within five minutes of his debut and was out for six weeks.  Hopes of a top half finish turned to survival and a narrow victory at Portadown proved vital.  An unexpected draw at Midleton, who were promoted behind an outstanding Queen's team, was a timely boost and late season home wins over Instonians and Ards took Rainey up to the thirty point mark and again tenth spot in the table.


Season 2010-2011, with Rodney Paul as captain, was a truly remarkable one.  A chronic injury list saw the side struggle in the Ulster League and lose the first four games in Division 3 of the AIL campaign, but the return to fitness of New Zealand scrum-half Peter Sciascia and a host of others kick-started an outstanding run, spoiled only by an intercept try against Nenagh.  A record total of 46 points hoisted Rainey up to sixth place.


This run of success continued when Simon Hawe took over as captain.  After a great start, a little mid-season sticky patch was to severely dent promotion prospects, but a fine finish earned the club fifth place on 48 points in Div 2B of a restructured AIL.  The ability and character of the squad was evident when all-conquering Cashel were extremely fortunate to beat them 20-17 at Spafield on the final day of the campaign.  Neil O'Kane was chosen as Player of the Year for the fifth time, while the very popular Peter Sciascia returned home, having given the club many moments to remember.



Season 2012-13 was a memorable one for the club. The Division 2B title was won, with fourteen wins and a draw from fifteen starts. Rainey were the only undefeated side in the AIL and had the best defensive record - Points for: 456, Points Against: 167, Tries scored: 59.


With a number of stalwarts no longer available, several quality replacements were brought on board just in time for the more important business of the AIL and early victories over bogey team Nenagh and likely challengers Barnhall marked Rainey down as one of the teams to watch.  Despite losing O'Neill and McCluggage to injury, they topped the table at the mid-season break.  An unexpected appearance in the Ulster Cup Final was a pleasant diversion and though they performed poorly on the night against Ballymena, earlier comebacks at Dungannon and Malone showed the character of the side.


Two late tries at Forenaughts gave them a very acceptable 19-19 draw with second-placed Naas and a last gasp try at Suttonians yielded a vital bonus point.  They were fortunate to escape with a win at Navan when a succession of injuries completely altered the course of the game, but an outstanding display at the Palace Grounds, where resolute defending and clinical finishing enabled them to beat a good Armagh side 34-8, clinched promotion and with two home fixtures against relegation threatened teams to follow, the title was as good as their's.  Barnhall finished eleven points adrift, while Naas won a play-off at Greystones to claim the third promotion spot.


Coaches - Chris Campbell, Richard Boyd and Dylan Davies. Captain - Neil O'Kane.

Player of the Year - Stewart Simpson. Most Improved Player - Andrew Harbinson.


In readiness for life at a new level in season 2013-2014, some exciting signings were made and a number of very talented school leavers came on board, to leave the club with a strong looking squad.  It soon became apparent, however, that a few of the promotion winning squad would, for various reasons, not be available to continue and a season-ending injury to scrum-half Alan McCluggage was a devastating blow.


But, although resources were severely stretched at times, some good early season results in the AIL meant that relegation was never an issue and several young players were given some game time as they remained in the top half of the table for most of the season.  But, while the 'points for' column made reasonable reading, the 'points against' tally gave cause for concern.  Two disappointing defeats at Donnybrook and a difficult finish to the programme saw Rainey slip down to tenth place.


The highlight of the season was, undoubtedly, a tremendous comeback victory against all the odds at high-flying Ulster Senior Cup winners Queen's.  The opening of the Bobby Henderson Fitness Suite and the completion of the Council's new 3G pitches were significant additions to the already impressive facilities at Hatrick Park.  Paddy McGowan was chosen as Player of the Year.


Louise Flanigan was President of the club for the 2014-2015 season.  Coming from a rugby background in Cork, she was a natural choice.  With key players ruled out for long spells, it became a very frustrating campaign.  While managing to keep clear of the bottom clubs, a top ten finish was always going to be a tall order.  A lot of talented young players revealed considerable potential when handed a taste of AIL rugby and they should continue to develop in Section 2B of a restructured league.

The Youth section is among the best in Ulster, with the U18s reaching the final of all three major competitions.  A thriving Minis section has over 200 members and is exceptionally well run.  They even have their own reception office adjacent to the training pitch.


A major landmark was also reached in mid-season with the completion of work on the installation of floodlights on the main pitch.

From the outset, season 2015-16 looked like being a difficult one. As a run of injuries stretched an already thin senior squad to the limit, it was a very young side that was faced with a task that was just beyond them.  Games were lost that might have been won and confidence drained away.  Stirring home wins over eventual champions Highfield and Armagh offered some hope, but some very disappointing home displays and a play-off defeat at home saw the club relegated.  In the course of the season, several young lads were thrown in at the deep end and they can be proud of their efforts.Some of them, in fact, could become regulars on the side in the not too distant future.


With the aid of a Council grant,the club acquired the latest GPS equipment to aid in player development and to monitor progression.  The collected data can be analysed by coaching staff and it should assist them in identifying player weaknesses and areas for improvement.


Another highly successful season at underage level saw Rainey move up to No 2 spot in the Ulster rankings, with a number of players brought into the Ulster development squads.  The U18's just ran out of time in the Nutty Krust final after a nightmare start against Dromore, while the U14's had no answer against a huge Lurgan side in the Bowl final.  Pride of place went to the U16's who completed a magnificent double by beating a good Dromore team 11-10 in a nerve-wracking Ulster Carpets Cup final at the Kingspan Stadium.


With record numbers turning out for coaching and our teams doing very well on their travels,  the future looks as bright as ever for the Minis.  From the top down, a great job is being done at this level.


Brian Wilson was President as Rainey faced a lot of travelling in Division 2C.  During the off-season, an exciting young Samoan out-half was snapped up as our overseas signing, but unfortunately, the arrangement fell through due to a family bereavement.  Fortunately, however, South African hooker George Fritz was available to spend a second spell at Hatrick Park and, after arriving on the eve of the opening AIL game at Bangor, marked the occasion with two tries in a spectacular display.


A dream autumn saw Jonny Lees' side lead the chasing pack by six points, but a winter of discontent was to follow as a succession of setbacks derailed the promotion drive.  Almost anything that could have gone wrong did and by the turn of the year they struggled to field a competitive team.  The loss of Fritz was a devastating blow and he is still awaiting an operation on his injured shoulder.  A number of props then swelled the injured list as Rainey, low in morale and confidence, slipped down the table.


But, after a few demoralising home defeats, the gradual return of players allowed them to eke out enough wins, which while not too convincing, kept them in the play-off places.  Performances began to improve just in time for a play-off semi-final at Sligo where Rainey stormed to a 30-21 victory which gave them home advantage against Tullamore in the final.  The Offaly side had beaten Bective Rangers at Donnybrook, but they had no answer as Rainey hit form to score some super tries in a very entertaining 35-23 win and return to Division 2B.  A fine achievement for a very young squad.  Player of the Year was Tim Barker.


At the Ulster Rugby Awards Dinner, Tommy O' Hagan was presented with the Ken Goodall Outstanding Club Player of the Year.  Having been brought up from the Academy to make several appearances for Ulster " A " in the British and Irish Cup, the young prop ended the season on a high by making a brief appearance for Ulster against the Barbarians.  U18 prop Jack McIntosh took the Ulster Carpets Young Player of the Year award.


Eighteen year old second-row John McCusker made a stunning impact when he took the field at Midleton and was a regular squad member for the rest of the campaign.  He played for Ireland U19 and is now with the Academy, having been brought up to the Ulster "A" squad on a couple of occasions.  Philip became the fourth McCusker brother to force his way into the side after showing great potential on the Seconds.


The Minis and underage teams all did well.  A very strong U18 side had several Ulster representatives and looked a safe bet for honours, but, unfortunately, were short of a few key players at the business end of the season when the trophies were being handed out.  A fancied U16 team won the Plate, having narrowly lost early in the Cup.  The U14 squad reached the Cup final at the Kingspan where they faced a much bigger Portadown outfit.  On a blustery morning, they gave their all to hold a narrow lead as the game moved into time added. They were awarded a penalty around halfway, but took a wrong option to give the ball away and present Portadown with the winner.


Captain for 2017-2018 was Damien McMurray.  A very good season for the club and it would have been even better, but for what happened deep in time added in the Play-Off Final.


The Recruitment Committee worked wonders to attract the services of some quality players to provide the strength in depth that was needed and give a group of clearly talented young lads time to develop at a less demanding level.


The width of an upright was the difference between winning and losing when Rainey were pipped by Old Crescent on the opening day of play in Division 2B.  The Limerick club went on to make it a one horse race, while Rainey produced some great rugby to build up an impressive points difference and open up a gap on the rest.  The inevitable injuries could have been dealt with, but, when three of your best players were sidelined for long spells, things looked bleak.  A superb victory at Wanderers proved to be a flash in the pan as a number of poor displays saw our gap dwindle alarmingly, but we managed to hold on to second place.  With Bloomfield back in action, Barnhall were then beaten at Hatrick Park.  Rainey's hopes rose when Paul Pritchard was given the go-ahead to resume after a three month absence against Navan in the final, again at home.  It was, as expected, a tight game, with Rainey there with a great chance when they led 14-6 well into the second half.  But a few little errors let Navan off the hook and a controversial decision led to a Navan try in the last minute of the seven minutes of time that was added.  The conversion, the last kick of the game, put Navan in front for the first time in the contest.  Rainey were naturally devastated at losing in such circumstances.


A skilful young 2nd XV, coached by Peter Boyle, ran away with Provincial League 2, scoring a lot of tries in the process.  Some of the opposition may not have been that strong, but it gave the Rainey lads a chance to enjoy their rugby and mature at the same time.


Several enthusiastic newcomers were introduced at 3rd XV level where a touch of experience in the form of Richard McCrea and Kyle Kempton helped them to settle in so well that they won their Section of the post-Christmas Regional League.


Rainey continue to compete with the best clubs in Ulster at underage level.  Pride of place has to go to the U18 squad who won the league and went on to complete the double by lifting the Ulster Carpets Cup at the Kingspan Stadium.  Over the years, Heather Thornton has built up a Mini Rugby section which is brilliantly organised.  While her band of volunteers deserve the greatest of praise for helping to make it all possible, it would never have become the success that it is without her to keep them on the right track.  The bad news is that Heather is stepping down for a well-earned rest.  Her successor has a hard act to follow.



Season 2018-19 had a very disappointing start, but a remarkable ending.  A difficult start in Division 2B saw Rainey pointless after three games.  They managed to put a winning run, but, with a very young side due to injury problems and unavailability, never looked convincing.  They were easy winners of Section B of the SONI Ulster League, but their promotion hopes were dim when they lost a couple of games which they might have won.  But as the injury situation began to ease, they recorded two good wins on the road to rekindle their hopes.  A home victory over second placed Greystones, followed by a marvellous display against Wanderers in Dublin were confidence boosters and helped them to a third place finish.


With some of their most experienced players available again, they travelled to meet Greystones at Dr.Hickey Park in the semi-final of the Play-Offs.  Totally dominant in the opening half-hour, they could have been out of sight, but the picture changed as the Wicklow men staged a comeback to leave the outcome in doubt. But Rainey were not to be denied as they dug deep to emerge 23-20 winners.


The final at Stradbrook where Blackrock had scraped through against visitors Sligo attracted a big crowd to the South Dublin venue and they were to witness a great contest.  A focused Rainey pack, with captain Paul Pritchard back to his best in the back row and hooker Brad Roberts getting better by the week after returning from a long-term injury, took the game to the opposition and some clinical finishing in the backline left them firmly in the driving seat early in the second half.  Once again though, the picture was to alter considerably as Blackrock struck with two converted tries.  With decisions going against them and yellow cards adding to their problems, they defended superbly and broke deep into enemy territory for a last minute try to clinch a thrilling 33-21 win.



Having been restricted to only a handful of outings during the season due to recurring injuries, this was Tim Barker's last game.  The former Ulster, Castres and Glasgow forward could hardly have chosen a happier occasion on which to bow out.


Coach Peter Boyle did a great job with a very young 2nd XV which took some time to settle.  They chalked up some big victories and, despite having to unearth more talented youngsters when a number of regulars were needed further up the club, ended up in third place.  Towards the end of the season they had the satisfaction of beating the two sides who finished above them.


The Thirds struggled to field in the early weeks of the season, but gradually got going to enjoy a little cup run.  When Rory Flanigan and John Beattie came on board to assist captain Phelim Trainor who was unavailable on occasions due to work commitments, things reallly took off.  With several promising newcomers improving by the week, they rattled up ten consecutive bonus point wins to run away with the post-Christmas league they were placed in.


At underage level, the club teams were again a match for the best and, hopefully, some of these lads will progress further up the club.  The Minis have a busy schedule, a credit to the volonteers in charge.


Season 2019-2020 will never be forgotten.  Although the Coronavirus brought things to an early close, it was still a great season for the club.  Looking forward to a severe test in Div 2A, there was a real buzz around the place in pre-season, with record turn-outs at training.  A few new faces gave the squad a strong look, with many talented young lads capable of doing a great job when handed the opportunity.

In Section 1 of the SONI Premiership for the first time, a young side played some outstanding rugby to give Rainey an unbelievable start.  Following a very disappointing display at Nenagh, they bounced back with a series of impressive wins to occupy second place behind Barnhall for much of the AIL campaign.  A fine home win over Banbridge clinched the Ulster title with a game to spare.

Runaway leaders Barnhall lost their long, unbeaten record in a classic contest at Hatrick Park, but a couple of costly wrong options were to damage Rainey prospects of a play-off place.  The return of Tommy O' Hagan from his Ulster spell was a welcome boost, but,with the bottom four teams still to play, a highly enjoyable season came to an abrupt end.

Brad Roberts had another outstanding season in Rainey colours and it came to no surprise when he was chosen as Player of the Year in Division 2A.  A great honour for the little South African hooker and for Rainey.  A very loyal servant in his three years in Magherafelt, he would not look out of his depth at a higher level.  Wales could be his next port of call.

A young 2nd XV had another tremendous season, running in a lot of tries as they romped through Provisional 1.  Beating Coleraine in the Towns' Cup at Sandel Lodge was a highlight.

The Thirds unearthed some new faces to qualify easily from their pre-Christmas section and continued to compete well from then on against stronger opposition.

It was great to see the Fourths back in action again, with several old hands guiding the less experienced to give  a good account of themselves.  A major disappointment was the inability of some of their opponents to field a side.  They did well to defeat Ballymoney IV at Kilraughts Road in the McCambley Cup and spoil their hopes of a three-in-a row.  Unfortunately, they slipped up in Ballyshannon at the next stage, a game they should have won.