But perhaps the most significant story was the introduction of Dermot Earley as a 68th minute substitute to a tumultuous cheer.
The Sarsfields man has been absent for 19 months since suffering a serious cruciate knee ligament injury in the 2010 All-Ireland quarter-final.
He even had time to kick a point in injury-time, set up for him by the irrepressible Doyle, who almost turned 180 degrees in sight of goal to give his long-time colleague the opportunity.
“He played Friday night and we just wanted to get him back out,” said Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney.
“We gave him five minutes but he’s gonna’ have to work for his minutes from now on.
“Both him and Mikey Conway have come back. I did [the cruciate] once but to do it twice and be out of football two years and be able to walk out on the pitch is an incredible achievement.”
With another of the cruciate crew, Hughie Lynch also playing against Waterford on Friday, all the signs are Kildare are beginning to crank into gear.
They looked good again for much of yesterday, although the concession of two goals was a concern, even if they did manage to grab two of their own.
Seán Leo McGoldrick’s 54th minute goal came just two minutes after Doyle ended a 12-month drought for Kildare from the penalty spot. The award was for a nudge on Tomás O’Connor and if that was a penalty, impressive Derry substitute Cailean O’Boyle must be wondering how he wasn’t given one late on.
When O’Boyle struck the net on the hour though, Kildare were once again being asked a serious question, with the margin now down to one.
But five minutes from time, the excellent Peter Kelly blocked Paddy Bradley, enabling Padraig O’Neill release Eamonn Callaghan. The Naas man went on a strong run down the left and exchanged passes with O’Connor before drawing Derry goalkeeper Barry Gillis. A quick transfer to Alan Smith and the sub hit the roof of the net.
O’Rourke concluded “It’s great to show the character. We were a wee bit flat today. Derry did their homework. They’re good at getting behind the ball and coming at us at pace. It was frustrating at times but we definitely got the scores that counted and could have got a couple of more.”
Scorers for Kildare: J Doyle 1-3 (1-0 pen), E O’Flaherty 0-4 (2fs), J Kavanagh 0-2, M Conway (f), M O’Flaherty, P O’Neill, D Earley 0-1 each.
Scorers for Derry: C Gilligan 0-4 (3fs), P Bradley 0-3 (1f), SL McGoldrick, C O’Boyle 1-0 each, E Lynn 0-1.
KILDARE: S Connolly; E Bolton, P Kelly, O Lyons; M O’Flaherty, M Foley, H McGrillen; D Flynn, P O’Neill; E Callaghan, E O’Flaherty, J Doyle; M Conway, T O’Connor, J Kavanagh.
Subs: A Smith for Conway (55), D Earley for O’Connor (69), K Ennis for Callaghan (70+1).
DERRY: B Gillis; B McCallion, C McKaigue, A McAlynn; PJ McCloskey, C Kielt, M Craig; M Friel, SL McGoldrick; N Forrester, B Gormley, B McGoldrick; E Lynn, P Bradley, C Gilligan.
Subs: C O’Boyle for Forrester (43), Patsy Bradley for Gormley (49), E McGuckian for Lynn (60), E Scullion for Kielt (69).
Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh).