Doyle sets up ally Earley for fitting point on triumphant Kildare return
The tumultuous cheer as Dermot Earley was brought on two minutes from the end was bettered three minutes later when the Kildare legend was set up by his long-time ally Johnny Doyle to score a point.
There was a celebratory feel to it as things seem to be coming right for the Lilywhites, with a miserable February apparently consigned to the mists of memory and promotion to Division 1 now a realistic target.
The attack is moving better again, even if they struggled at times to break down Derry's defensive line.
They bagged two goals, Doyle converting a 52nd-minute penalty award that seemed a tad generous.
However, Kildare conceded two goals thereafter, to Sean Leo McGoldrick and Cailean O'Boyle, to leave just a point between the sides with 10 minutes remaining.
Good work from Peter Kelly and Eamonn Callaghan led to Alan Smith finishing from close range in the 65th minute though, and the Lilies were confident enough to be able to give Earley his first competitive game for 19 months.
"He played Friday night and we just wanted to get him back out," said Kieran McGeeney. "We gave him five minutes but he's gonna have to work for his minutes from now on."
Kildare led by 0-8 to 0-6 at half-time, despite Michael Friel and McGoldrick doing well at midfield in the first half, but Daryl Flynn and Callaghan were influential in that sector after the break and the hosts were seven clear after Doyle's penalty.
And yet, Kildare were only a point ahead when O'Boyle slotted to the net on the hour.
The genesis of the move for Smith's defining goal came from a block by Kelly on Paddy Bradley. Bradley had begun with three points by the 11th minute but Kelly got to grips with the Derry dangerman as the game wore on.
Padraig O'Neill picked up the break and sent Callaghan scampering away down the left flank. He exchanged passes with O'Connor before offloading to Smith who hit the roof of the net.
That was that and in the end, Doyle was turning down a goal opportunity to set up Earley for that fitting conclusion.
Man of the Match: Johnny Doyle (Kildare)
Scorers -- Kildare: J Doyle 1-3 (1-0 pen), E O'Flaherty 0-4 (2f), A Smith 1-0, J Kavanagh 0-2, P O'Neill, M O'Flaherty, M Conway (1f), D Earley 0-1 each. Derry: C Gilligan 0-4 (3f), Paddy Bradley 0-3 (1f), SL McGoldrick, C O'Boyle 1-0 each, E Lynn 0-1.
Kildare -- S Connolly 7; E Bolton 7, P Kelly 8, O Lyons 7; M O'Flaherty, M Foley 7, H McGrillen 6; D Flynn 8, P O'Neill 7; E Callaghan 8, E O'Flaherty 8, J Doyle 8; M Conway 6, T O'Connor 7, J Kavanagh 7. Subs: A Smith 6 for Conway (55), D Earley 6 for O'Connor (69), K Ennis 6 for Callaghan (70+1).
Derry -- B Gillis 7; B McCallion 6, C McKaigue 7, A McAlynn 6; PJ McCloskey 7, C Kielt 7, M Craig 6; M Friel 8, SL McGoldrick 8; N Forrester 6, B Gormley 6, B McGoldrick 7; E Lynn 6, P Bradley 7 C Gilligan 8. Subs: C O'Boyle 8 for Forrester (43), Patsy Bradley 6 for Gormley (49), E McGuckian 6 for Lynn (60), E Scullion for Kielt (69).
Ref -- M Higgins (Fermanagh).