Exciting Dr Billy Shield final beckons in golf
BALLYBUNION and Ballyheigue Castle face off in the final of the Dr Billy O’Sullivan Shield at Ballybunion on Saturday in what promises to be an exciting final between the two North Kerry clubs.
Away wins against Castlegregory and Ring of Kerry and a home win in the semi-finals over Ceann Sibéal saw Ballybunion reach the final, while Ballyheigue enjoyed an away win at Tralee, a home win against Waterville and a semi-final win against the holders Kenmare in Ballybunion.
Both sides are multiple winners of this event with Ballybunion winning four titles to Ballyheigue’s three. Ballybunion won the inaugural title in 1990 beating Dooks in Killarney for their first and the next one came in the club’s centenary year of 1993 when they Tralee in Ballybunion. However, they had to wait another seventeen years before the next title, winning at Killorglin in 2010 when they beat Waterville while their fourth title came in 2014 when they beat Castleisland at Ring of Kerry.
Ballyheigue was founded in 1996 and won their first title in 2002, beating Listowel in the final at Ballybunion. Seven years later when they hosted the federation, they lifted the famous shield again, on home soil, beating Ceann Sibéal, while their third title came in 2013 when they beat Kenmare in Castleisland.
Both sides have pretty good records in final with Ballybunion losing just one out of five, when they went down to Ceann Sibéal in Ceann Sibéal in 1991 while Ballyheigue have lost two out of five, when they fell to Tralee in the 1998 decider in Tralee and six years later when they lost to Ross in Castlerosse. So, a great pedigree for both clubs when it comes to this event and there won’t be much between the sides on Saturday.
Ballybunion do have home advantage but Ballyheigue have won a Dr Billy final in Ballybunion, albeit 16 years ago.
I stated at the outset when the draw was made that I fancied Ballybunion to take the title this year and join Kenmare and Killarney as five-time winners and I see no reason to change my mind now. However, Ballyheigue will fancy their chances of causing an upset on Saturday and the home side won’t have it all their own way when battle commences at 12 noon on the Old course.