Saturday's Eirgrid Under-20 All-Ireland football final brings together two tribes who have been working relentlessly towards their respective goals for some time.

It’s a first U20 decider for the Yeats County and only the fifth time ever for a Sligo team to reach an All-Ireland final in any grade.

But there is so much precise work and development ongoing in the county that it's no surprise this fine young team has reached a national final.

From schools' success with St Attracta’s and Summerhill and recent minor wins to historic back-to-back Connacht titles for this band of under 20s, Sligo football is thriving.

And not forgetting that their senior side reached the Connacht senior final this season and will soon attend to their business in the round robin series of the All-Ireland championship.

These days there is a strong pathway for all Sligo footballers to follow. Nineteen of the current senior squad were part of the panel that won the 2021 Connacht U17 championship.

Fourteen of the panel featured on the field in Sligo’s Connacht U20 championship success last year. And this year’s crop know that they will also get a chance to break into Tony McEntee’s set-up, providing they keep hitting all the right benchmarks.

Kildare, too, have been foraging desperately hard to get a national title at this level. The county has won just six All-Irelands across senior (four), Under 21/20 (two, most recently in 2018) and minor (none).

They are blessed to have a fine young manager in former county player Brian Flanagan, who is heavy on detail and works countless hours behind the scenes to present his team in the best possible fashion.

After his playing career came to a premature end in 2014 at the age of 29 due to a persistent knee injury, Flanagan joined the Kildare senior set-up under then manager Cian O'Neill. He has also managed his native Johnstownbridge, the Kildare juniors, DIT's Sigerson Cup team as well as working with the Westmeath seniors.

"These lads are a joy to work with," he tells RTE Sport.

"They work hard, apply themselves and they have shown serious mental strength and leadership to get to this final."

Flanagan was in charge of the side last year when they lost to Tyrone by six points in the decider.

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They were also right up against it in this year’s semi-final against Down before coming back from the brink in a breathless encounter to win, courtesy of a sensational 35-yard left footed point from Jack McKevitt, who stepped up from half back to win the game.

"We were six down in that game and we have had to fight hard to get to another final," Flanagan says.

"But people like Jack have seen big days with their club (Naas) and Naas CBS and I’m not surprised with the leadership shown."

They next face a tight-knit Sligo side bidding to win their first ever underage All-Ireland title.

The Sligo group has been more or less together –players and backroom- since under-14 development squad level.

"It was about enjoyment when we first started and as the lads have grown into young men tactics have come more and more into it," says manager Paul Henry, who has also marked himself out as one of the most exciting young managers around.

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They notched a first underage championship win against Kerry in the semi-final when Ronan Niland bagged 1-01 and Luke Marren scored another three points. Marren has hit 0-38 so far this season and is razor sharp from placed balls.

The stakes are simply massive for both teams. A mountain of work has been invested.

"It’s important to play the game and not the occasion," Flanagan stresses. "That will be crucial. We will balance our set-up to pay respect to Sligo but ultimately to go and express ourselves too."

It will be back to basics for Paul Henry too.

"Work ethic," he says. "That’s what I admire most about our lads. They have never shirked it and will go to the ends of the earth for you. They have a belief that they can compete with the strongest counties around and they have backed it up."

Graduation to senior ranks awaits many of these young footballers, and long-term success and development is key for their respective counties, but after losing in the semi-final and final stages respectively, both Sligo and Kildare will want silverware for all their herculean work over the years.