Kildare cubs have the talent to bridge their 53-year gap
If this Kildare under-20 team displayed all the traits of a side that looked destined for success when they beat Dublin by eight points in the Leinster U20FC final, their manager Davy Burke wasn't always so certain.
"We came in because we knew there was a good group there," he told the Herald this week ahead of just Kildare's third appearance in the All-Ireland final at the U21/U20 grade.
"From minor, they were good. They won a Leinster minor championship and they beat Mayo in the (2016) semi-final.
"So it was a decent crop there. But it wasn't really until the first week of May that we thought we might be on to something here. I'm not saying that we thought we'd be in an All-Ireland final or anything like that.
"But I knew when we got the four guys back from the seniors and a few injuries cleared up and we got the club stuff out of the way, I could see there was definitely serious potential there, that we would definitely have a good cut at a Leinster Championship."
Goalkeeper Aaron O'Neill, scoring sensation Jimmy Hyland plus Ruadhán O'Giolláin and Mark Dempsey were all part of Cian O'Neill NFL panel but it was decided mutually between Burke and O'Neill to leave the quartet to their age group for the summer.
The decision has paid off handsomely.
Just a week on from the Dublin victory, Kildare went seven points up with only five minutes to play against a Kerry team weighed down with All-Ireland minor medals, although Jack O'Connor's men did score 1-3 in the closing gallop to make things dramatic.
"For 54 minutes, Kerry only had nine points on the board," Burke pointed out.
"But when you go seven points up, it's natural.
"You try and protect what you have.
"And then you end up retreating and you can't retreat against top teams.
"They pick you off. So there was a big learning there for us.
"We need to continue to play for 63, 64 minutes."
Mayo meanwhile, have beaten Leitrim, Roscommon and Derry to get to tomorrow's Croke Park final and they bring a noticeably athletic team to GAA headquarters.
Their captain and centre-forward Ryan O'Donoghue is an Irish schoolboy International and was formerly on the books of Sligo Rovers.
Ross Egan, their full-forward, hit nine points in the Connacht final against Roscommon while both Paul Lambert and Oisín McLoughlin provide massive energy from wing-back.
Kildare's last All-Ireland at any level was their sole U21 success of 1965.
They have the talent to bridge that gap tomorrow with the inaugural EirGrid U20FC title.
ODDS: Kildare 4/7, Draw 15/2, Mayo 15/8