The first major Football Championship silverware in Kildare will be given out on Sunday when Ballymore Eustace and Robertstown contest the Tom Cross Junior Football Championship Final.
For Ballymore they are aiming to make it two wins in three years while Robertstown are back in their first final since 2011.
After suffering a shock drop back to this grade last term when defeated by Ellistown in the Intermediate Championship Relegation Play-Off Ballymore are eager to get back to that level and this Final gives them the ideal opportunity.
Its also not that long ago that Ballymore were competing in the Senior Championship after winning the Intermediate in 2010 with a two point victory over Confey.
They weren’t at Senior for too long but with a talented bunch of youngsters now coming through of which a lot have played with the successful Naas CBS’S teams in recent years hope springs eternal that they can get back to that top table at some stage.
If someone had said to you after the 2017 decider in which the Wicklow Border outfit defeated Caragh on a 3-18 to 1-4 scoreline that they would be back at this level this soon they would have got some strange looks.
It hasn’t been a campaign that has gone straight forward either, granted they had big wins over the likes of Ardclough and Castlemitchell but their old compatriots Caragh got the better of them in the Group Stages so they had to be content with second spot.
It wasn’t a game Ballymore lost too much sleep over either as they were without a number of players and they showed in their 2-26 to 1-5 demolition of Rathcoffey in the semi-final that things are beginning to peak at the right time.
Ballymore have some fine players in their ranks including Kildare All-Ireland under 20 winners Mark Barrett who is ultra consistent at full back and Niall Murphy who has been racking up the scores up front.
The likes of Michael Stewart Byrne who was the 2017 captain, Caolan Halpin and Shane Barrett are all capable footballers aswell and they will be difficult to stop.
Ballymore have been raging hot favourites to land the Noel Moran Cup since the start of the year and the last team aiming to stop them achieving it are Robertstown.
Robertstown are looking for a first success in eight years and before that final victory over Two Mile House they had lost four further deciders so that 2011 victory definitely shook off a bit of a bridesmaid tag.
There has been nothing bridesmaid about their form this year and manager Aidan Dunne is delighted to be in a final especially in their centenary year.
“We won the Junior in 2011 and then we were in Intermediate for a few years and its our first time in a County Final since then.”
“The club is going 100 years and regardless of winning stuff like that is important especially in a small rural club and the GAA is often everything to everyone in the locality and to give people that bit of joy and happiness through football and sport is just brilliant and I’m just delighted I was able to manage these players to get there”.
Those comments came on the back of Robertstown’s last gasp semi-final victory over Caragh where a Damien Leeson point in the 64th minute sealed their place in the final.
Caragh nearly played that whole game with 14 men but you have to take the chance when it comes in front of you and that’s exactly what happened for Dunne’s team with Danny Scully and Joe Kavanagh not for the first time being their twin threat.
The two lads got the goals on that occasion and they have been finding the net with great regularity throughout and it’s something that may be needed on Sunday once more.
Robertstown are also in the fortunate position of being able to call on players who have gave service to other clubs in the past including Robbie Dunne (Clane) and Noel Byrne (Raheens).
When you look at it Robertstown have plenty of strings to their bow including goal scoring but Ballymore are still one of the best teams to have plied their trade at this grade and they should be too strong in the end.
Verdict: Ballymore Eustace