The summer season is commonly marked by the debut of a handful of blockbuster films on the silver screen, and this year has been no exception. In the midst of a stifling heat wave, audiences across the country have packed theaters to be thrilled and dazzled by The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight, and even Abraham Lincoln (mixing it up with vampires, no less). For the price of a ticket, a drink, and a bucket of popcorn, one could be easily entertained by the action in the theaters. These epic productions have all offered up a bevy of storylines to keep us interested: Guts, determination, blood and sweat, victory and defeat, elation and heartbreak.
On the other hand, you could have saved yourself a few bucks and seen all of that for free on a hurling pitch in Indianapolis. Minus the vampires.
On Sunday, July 15, four surviving teams met to determine the outcome of the 2012 Indianapolis Hurling Club Pub League, each having advanced to the semi-finals during the first round of playoff action the week prior. In a season marked by previously unmatched parity among the top teams in the league, the highest four seeds each advanced with an equal shot at winning two matches on the day and earning the honor of drinking from The Quigley Cup. Top seed Pogue’s Run faced #4 seed Good Earth, and #2 seed Goose the Market battled #3 seed (and two-time defending champion) Claddagh, with the winner of each match set to square off for the right to be named 2012 Indy Hurling Pub League champions.
Good Earth was better than their name in the match against Pogue’s Run, looking great while cruising to a 12-point victory 8-10, 6-4. Meanwhile, Goose the Market and Claddagh slugged it out in a terrifically played match, the result of which was a 4-point Goose victory. Just as important as the win, however, was what Goose lost during the game. Defensive specialist Travis Parker injured his right knee in the game’s waning moments, and an already injury-ravaged Goose squad was left heading into the championship match with only 1 substitute (*note – Parker valiantly started in the championship match, but it was quickly determined that he was unable to continue due to the severity of his injury).
The stage was set: Good Earth vs. Goose the Market in the Quigley Cup Final. On paper, the deep and dangerous Good Earth squad seemed primed to overrun the depleted Goose side and lay claim to the title. But that, as they say, is why we play the game.
Adding to the intrigue surrounding the match was a daring defensive strategy drawn up by Goose co-captain Ciaran Connery. After learning that Good Earth forward Tristan Chaplin had torched Pogue’s Run for a monstrous 6 goals in the semi-final round, Connery directed his fullback line to double-team Chaplin the entire match, and leave the remaining Good Earth full forward free to roam near the goal. Was there resistance to Connery’s mad plan? Sure. But you try arguing with Connery and see where it gets you. Goose defenders acceded to Connery’s strategy and the game was afoot.
With Parker out, Sean McGill was moved out of goal and into the fullback line, and Goose hurler Jeremy Hambrick was put in goal for the first…time…all…freaking…season. First time in goal. Quigley Cup Finals. 6 goals from Chaplin in the last match. No pressure, dude.
While moving McGill out of goal deprived the assembled crowd of a chance to play everyone’s favorite sideline game, “6 or 60?” (wherein bets are place prior to each puck out whether the sliotar will travel less than 6 meters or more than 60 meters), the sure-handed Hambrick proved himself more than capable of defending the Goose nets during the first half. Goose and Good Earth entered the halftime break with Goose leading by a slim margin.
After a brilliantly played first half, both teams braced for what would surely be a brutal second half of play that would test the limits of each team’s endurance. Helmed by veterans Rudy Nehrling, Mike Monaghan, and Brian Church, Good Earth was clearly capable of overtaking Goose and claiming the Quigley Cup. The Earthlings proved as much by quickly reclaiming the lead shortly into the second half. Goose battled back, reclaiming the lead behind strong play from veterans Jeremy Fagan, Kyle Griffith, and Indy Hurling newcomer Dave Riordan, who is widely suspected of having played the game before arriving in the heartland.
The match reached a fever pitch as time wound down. A late goal by Nehrling drew Good Earth to within three points of Goose, but in the end it was just too much Connery and Fagan. Goose the Market claimed the 2012 Quigley Cup by a final score of 4-13, 3-11.
Many thanks are due to the member of the IHC Board, as well as all players, coaches, and anyone else who volunteered to help make the 2012 Indy Hurling Club Pub League season a success. Thanks are also due to championship match referee Brian Mathes, who probably sprained his wrist handing out yellow cards doing the game’s most thankless job.
Can Goose repeat? Will Good Earth reach the final match for the 3rd consecutive season? Will Renner’s win a game? Is Pat Flynn’s destined to win the Shield Championship every year?
We’ll answer these questions in due time, and in the proper manner: on the pitch.
See you out there.