Anniversaries the banner events in 2018
Ger Walsh: There were two big anniversaries on the Kerry golf scene in 2018 as well as plenty of success on course
As 2017 was perhaps one of the greatest-ever years for Kerry golf with three national titles coming to the Kingdom, it was always going to be difficult to top that in 2018 and while the past twelve months was barren in terms of titles, it was nonetheless a year well worth remembering anyway as the Ballybunion and Killarney clubs celebrated their 125th birthdays.
As we look back over the past twelve months, we'll start with the GUI Cups & Shields and how the teams fared in our West Munster section.
Beginning with the Pierce Purcell Shield where Kanturk beat Tralee in the area final to qualify for the Munster semi-finals where they were again successful against Bantry Bay, but they fell to Nenagh in the provincial decider.
Castleisland beat Tralee in the area final of the Jimmy Bruen Shield but fell to Nenagh in the provincial semi-final.
Reigning All-Ireland champions Ballybunion beat Dooks in the area final of the Irish Junior Cup and went on to beat Shannon in the Munster semi-final, but their dreams of back-to-back Munster titles came to an end on the nineteenth hole of the deciding match against Clonmel in the final.
Tralee beat Newcastlewest in the area final of the Irish Senior Cup and they went on to beat Castletroy in the provincial semi-final, but they went down to Dungarvan in the final by the odd match in five.
Doneraile beat Ballybunion in the area final of the Barton Shield, but the North Cork club went down in the Munster semi-final to Castletroy by a seven-hole margin while in the Irish Mixed Foursomes, Doneraile were also the qualifiers, beating Tralee in the area final before losing to Lee Valley in the provincial semis.
In the Munster Country Clubs Cup for nine-hole courses Ballyheigue Castle once again reached the semi-finals where they were defeated by Lisselean for the second year in-a-row.
Ballybunion again were the dominant club on the GUI Junior Golf Scene in Kerry, wining the Munster title in the inaugural All-Ireland Inter Club Boys Trophy, while also reaching the Munster semi-finals of the Fred Daly Trophy for the second year running, where they fell to Dungarvan.
Dooks went the furthest of the Kerry clubs in the Irish Junior Foursomes losing to Bantry Bay in the Munster quarter-finals while Tralee were crowned Kerry Junior League champions.
Ballybunion did a tremendous job in hosting the Kerry Federation events and the seaside club won the Dr Billy O'Sullivan Shield for the fifth time in their history beating Ballyheigue Castle in the final.
Castlegregory Golf Club had the distinction of winning two Nines of Kerry Shield titles in the one year, winning the 2018 final at Ballybunion against Castlerosse, and one week later, they defeated Ballyheigue Castle in the delayed 2017 final.
The magnificent nine-hole links on the shores of Lough Gill once again hosted The Kerryman Captain's Challenge where Ceann Sibeal's Michael Lenihan took the Men's prize and Helen Harty from the host club took the Ladies section.
In the Kingdom Challenge Shields, Dooks beat Ballybunion to take the senior title, while Tralee defeated Castlegregory to win their first Intermediate title and Ballybunion lifted the Kerry Shield on home turf.
Locally on the Ladies golf scene, Castleisland beat Ballybunion to win their first-ever Noreen Moore Trophy while Ballybunion made it back to back wins in the Joe Quinlan Shield having defeated Tralee in the final.
In the ILGU Cups, defending All-Ireland Champions Killarney went closest to another national title in the Senior Foursomes, retaining their Munster title and reaching the All-Ireland quarter-finals where they fell to Shandon Park from Belfast.
Killarney were also the defending All-Ireland champions in the Senior Cup and, while they too successfully defended their Munster title, they fell to the Island GC from Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-finals at Knock in Belfast.
Ballybunion's famous old course played host to the Ladies Home Internationals in August where Killarney's Valerie Clancy had a wonderful week, taking five points from a possible six for the Irish Ladies team.
After a long, hot, and dry summer, the links was in tremendous shape, playing really hard and fast to test the skills of the best ladies from the home nations, and eventually, it all came down to the final match on the final day, where Scotland just edged home ahead of Ireland for the title while England took the girls title, finishing just ahead of Wales.
Individually, Ballybunion's Margaret McAuliffe was once again selected on the Irish Ladies Seniors team for the European team championships, while Waterville's David Higgins enjoyed a hugely successful year on the domestic PGA circuit, winning several events to finish third in the Order of Merit.
Higgins was also nominated as Vice-Captain of the Great Britain & Ireland team who will contest the PGA Cup matches against the USA in Texas next September.
On the Boys Inter-provincial scene, Ballybunion's James O'Callaghan was the only Kerry man to represent Munster, playing on the Under 16 team, while the Kingdom had no representative on either the Under 18 18 or Under 14 teams.
Finally, as the year ends, I would like to thank everyone who contributed in any way to this column by way of news items, reports and photographs during the past twelve months.
I would especially like to express my sincere thanks to Federation Captain John Fox and Secretary Paddy Mulvihill who kept me involved and up to date on all Federation events throughout the year and now all that remains for me to do is to wish you all a Happy and above all, Healthy New Year for 2019, while at this time we also remember golfing friends and family members that passed away during the past twelve months.