The Broadsiders of Connor's Pub were on Orange Alert Sunday when they took the field Sunday to battle their new foes from Claddagh. Fortunately for those with weak stomachs, this was the first ever meeting of these two teams, the effect of whose combined uniform colors was perfectly nauseating.
Connor's had just come off a defeat they hoped to forget, losing last week by 21 points to Flynn's. Meanwhile, Claddagh is still hoping to prove they belong in this highly competitive league. Though they are new to the party, this Cinderella team has already proven they can play with anybody.
In an impressive display of commitment, Connor's boasted 16 players in attendance for a once-again cloudy, drizzly day at the park. It was also a reunion day for Steven Cox, who, after his annual return from Purdue, has now played for more teams than Shaq and Boy George combined. Claddagh was ready to go with 12 players, but was surely hampered by the unavailability of 4 players, including the enigma who is Paul Kennedy.
The Orangemen, who's crossing guard attire afforded them superb visibility, found each other easily on this overcast day and put on a demonstration of great teamwork. Claddagh jumped to an early lead by efficiently passing the sliotar to open players on offense for 2 first-half goals. Connor's struggled early on offense and managed only 4 points in the first half.
Connor's, who led the league in defense last season, and Claddagh, who is this season's early defensive giant, met expectations and allowed only 27 points total in this game. Even though Connor's could not get into the goal in the first half, they found themselves only down by 4 by leaning on a strong defensive effort. They were able to withstand Claddagh's early attack better than during any other game this season with great play by Kelly, Betsy, Joe, Brien and Brian. Jim and Adam stood strong on the fullback line too. Sean McGill returned from injury to contribute defensively as well, which allowed Charles to get into his groove in goal. During Sean's injury last week, he spent time in goal in an experiment which was described by some as the worst idea since they gave Jay Leno the 10:30 slot. (In my opinion, he played pretty well for a newbie.)
In the second half, Connor's came out like a team possessed, concentrating their immense collective energy at yet-another Connor's comeback. Captain Shoemaker shouted instructions from the pitch until his larynx dislodged from his larynx-holder. Rudy was a midfield master, dominating the area on offense and defense and ensuring sliotar possession for Connor's. In other news, rain is wet. Louie added a bit of offense while apparently trying to prove that slow is the new fast. Jim Kelly and Cox chipped in goals while Tim Boyll used his bursts of speed and one-handed jab-lifts to give players on both sides fits.
As proven earlier in the season, Jacob is really, really fast.
Claddagh seemed surprised by the reversal of fortunes, as they struggled to get back in control during the second half. They grinded out 1 point, then later 1 goal. Players sensed the urgency as Connor's pulled ahead and the time ticked away. Would the hurlers in orange pull it together and charge back by extending their miraculous new ability to score?
Alas, no; midnight had struck, and the Claddagh offense turned back into a pumpkin.
And now, alone at 2-1, Connor's will rest this week right where they belong - alone on top of the league.