Struggling with a hamstring strain, Michael Murphy had little impact on last night's All-Ireland SFC quarter-final until he sparked Donegal's extra-time comeback.
Kildare were on course to reach the last-four of the Championship, following a run of scores from Ronan Sweeney, Gary White and Alan Smith and another from Emmet Bolton.
That put them 0-14 to 1-8 ahead early on in the second period of extra-time. But Donegal's never-say-die attitude saw them fight all the way and get the rewards in the end, running out 1-12 to 0-14 winers.
Captain Murphy gave his side huge encouragement with a classy point from the right and then a monster free from distance.
Substitute Christy Toye, Donegal's goal scorer in normal time, followed up with the levelling score and it was strong-running wing back Kevin Cassidy who kicked the winner.
Despite his injury, Murphy managed to play for over an hour having been introduced into a misfiring Donegal attack in the 27th minute.
"I picked up a slight tear in the hamsting last week in training and the medical team didn't think that there was 70 minutes in it," he explained afterwards.
"I suppose I had to play a lot more in the end but I thought it was best coming in from the bench rather than starting the game and having to come off.
"It's amazing what a few painkillers can do!"
The 21-year-old forward has forged a close 'captain and manager' bond with Jim McGuinness. McGuinness' first year in charge has all been about achievement - Allianz Football League Division 2 and Ulster SFC title successes, and now there is an All-Ireland semi-final to look forward to.
Acknowledging the improvements made under the new management, Murphy stated: "Jim McGuinness, Rory Gallagher and the whole management team came in and they had great faith in us.
"Every man worked hard on their game to try and find ways of improving themselves. It's amazing when a whole group of lads get together and they are pulling in the one direction, what can actually happen.
"I suppose we were just delighted that we managed to put in that hard work. Sometimes when you do put in the hard work, it's nice to see a few benefits.
"Maybe over the last few years this team has shipped a lot of flak for having a bad attitude - or maybe not working hard enough is another one.
"I suppose this year you can never get it right. We were working too hard now in certain quarters.
"It is just a matter of the whole lot of us sticking together. That's the way we are at the moment and that's the way we will continue to be."
That unity was very obvious in the second period of extra-time when the Anglo-Celt Cup holders gritted their teeth and pushed on for victory.
Some of their more experienced players put behind them the memories of their quarter-final losses to Cork in both 2006 and 2009.
The 1-27 to 2-10 hammering by the Rebels two years ago was particularly deflating. But Murphy, who was at full-forward that day, believes that Donegal are a different animal now.
"We have always been coached - and we always had it going through our minds - that you keep going until the final whistle.
"When we were three down midway through the second period (of extra-time), it would have been very easy to lie down and go through the paces.
"But we knew that there were scores in the team. We felt we were keeping Kildare out relatively well and it was just a matter of trying to construct a few attacks and we managed to get over a few scores.
"We are delighted that those scores managed to go over in the end," he added.