Tralee Golf Club’s bid for AIG Irish Junior Cup glory next month will not fail for lack of preparation. Team manager Billy Naughton has been striving to have as deep a squad as possible travelling to Carton House to represent the newly crowned Munster pennant winners.
Tralee cruised through the AIG Munster finals at Cork Golf Club nine days ago, ousting north Cork’s Fermoy 4-1 in their semi-final with the last two matches called in for a half apiece, and then seeing off Co Tipperary in the provincial decider with a 3.5 to 1.5 victory to move the Kerrymen onto the national stage.
While Tralee’s success in the low handicappers’ singles matchplay format has come from a settled core of golfers, Naughton has a wider squad all prepped and ready to go. He made one change to his five-man line-up at Little Island between the Munster semis and final and those that have not featured yet are already being earmarked for future deployment.
“We’ve had a reasonably settled side all the way through and on the day (of the Munster finals) we won well, only lost one match in the 10 we played,” Naughton said. “So we’ll go to Carton House with good feelings and the expectation we can win it. We’ll be keeping our feet on the ground but we’ll be confident and we’ll be trying.
“We’ve 11 players on the squad and some younger lads we bring with us, who we’ve been breaking in for next year. We have the younger golfers caddying for us and I like them to play the course the team plays so they know the course at first hand. They’re not just bag pullers, they’re 17, 18, 19 years of age and we’re blooding them for the next campaign.” Munster’s representatives for the GUI’s AIG National Cups and Shields finals from September 14-17, include Monkstown in the blue riband Senior Cup, Cork in the Barton Shield, Nenagh in the Pierce Purcell and Muskerry in the Jimmy Bruen Shield. Yet for Tralee, their time to shine has been a long time coming, Naughton explained.
“We won the Munster Junior Cup way back in 1949 and 1950 but that was last time so this is a first for us in the present day and it’s great for the club. We’ve been in finals before and won Mixed Foursomes and things like that but they would have been around 2000. In the last four or five years we haven’t been successful in any of the competitions, only got to the quarter-finals stage, maybe a (provincial) semi-final, but never advanced further than that.
“Every one of this squad has played for the club before so it’s great that they are experiencing this success for the first time in the Junior Cup.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved