KERRY'S most famous golf trophy, the Dr Billy O'Sullivan Shield, is now on display in the Tralee clubhouse following the club's 4-1 win over Waterville in last Saturday's final at a blustery Barrow where home advantage proved crucial on the day but it was not as one-sided as the score line would suggest.
Both teams made changes to their line-ups from the semi-finals on the previous Saturday with Jim O'Connor coming in to partner Dominic Foley instead of Steve Richardson and Denis Murphy replacing Michael Geoghan as Bob O'Brien's partner on the Tralee side. Waterville made one personnel change and a partnership switch, with John Morris coming in instead of Ger McGillycuddy to partner Mike Flaherty and John Quinlan switching from Flaherty over to play with Alan Landers.
Tralee manager Pat O'Meara was in confident mood before the off when he jokingly told me "We have prepared well for this and while other Tralee teams have been doing all kind of exercises and practice for months, my lads have been going to the cinema and drinking a few pints, so they're very relaxed."
Vernon Devane the Waterville manager was more philosophical saying: "We have an uphill battle on our hands as Tralee are going to be very hard to beat on their home course but if my men can be ahead at the turn, then there's no reason why we cant win. It would be a toss of a coin on a neutral course but Tralee are rightly favourites around this one."
Kerry Federation Captain Michael Coote was on hand to welcome both teams and congratulate then on reaching the final and the everefficient federation secretary James O'Loughlin acted as official starter as opening holes at Tralee were to prove crucial with a stiff breeze blowing from left to right down the first, while the par five second was directly into the wind.
The links at Barrow was in superb shape as sizeable gallery in their club sweaters turned out to watch the final with the usual banter around the first tee which is all part of occasions like this.
Waterville won the toss and elected to hit first and while there were one or two rather nervous efforts from both sides, most players managed to get the first tee shot away and so the action began.
As I said, the first two holes were to prove crucial and as I stood and watched every match drive from the first tee it was becoming apparent that the home side were faster out of the blocks with Tralee having the honour from the second tee in almost every match.
Dominic Foley and Jim O'Connor (who missed the semi-final win over Ceann Sibeal through illness) were in determined mood, and after a great match with Peter Huggard and Sean O'Shea they put the first point on the board for the home side with a 3/1 win in the top match.
Tralee added another point from the third match soon after where Noel Barrett and Denis Lyons triumphed over Hugh Mullins and Ted Foley at the 13th.
Meanwhile, the second match was a real tit for tat affair and could have gone either way, but Tralee's Tony Cahill and Billy Myles and Waterville's Aidan O'Connell and Gerry O'Malley were called in from the nineteenth as Tralee had bagged the fourth match for the outright win.
Denis Murphy and Bob O'Brien were three up with three to play and cruising against John Morris & Mike Flaherty but suddenly the Waterville pairing won the sixteenth and seventeenth to reduce the deficit to one and with the second match evenly-balanced a Waterville comeback looked on the cards.
However, Murphy and O'Brien called on all their experience on the final hole and emerged with a victory by a two-hole margin in the end to earn the spoils for Tralee.
The final match saw the Tralee pairing of Pat Walsh and Mike Brosnan one up on Alan Landers and John Quinlan when called in for a half from the seventeenth, to give an overall winning margin of four matches to one to Tralee but the score line is a little flattering as I have said.
So, Tralee win the Dr Billy O'Sullivan Shield for the third time in its history, having previously won in 1995 and in 1998, when they also won it on home soil.
For one member of this year's team Mike Brosnan, it was really special as he was also a member of the winning side 14 years ago.
Waterville on the other hand have never won the title and have now lost two finals in just three short years, so surely their day will come soon and that well may happen next August, when the final will be played at Castleisland, who take over the captaincy of the Federation of Kerry Clubs for 2013.
All that remains to do is to sincerely congratulate Tralee on their win which I have to say that I predicted from the first round, (in spite of fears from several Tralee members that I might jinx them). They were deserving winners and will be a force at this level for some time I would think while Waterville a club and a course I have a great love for, will be disappointed, but no doubt they will be back and don't be surprised if you see both themselves and Tralee slugging it out in the final stages again next year.