DUBLIN'S clash with Donegal on Saturday night in Croker is a "must-win" according to former captain Coman Goggins.
Following last weekend's defeat to Down, the Dubs must be geared up for a spring finish to guarantee a top-four spot and qualification for the NFL Division 1 semi-finals.
"Given the emphasis that was placed on the league in 2011, Pat Gilroy would surely like to be sitting higher up the league table at this stage," stresses Goggins.
"Albeit that they carry a game in hand (Mayo), with Donegal next on the horizon this Saturday nothing less than a win will be required if the Dubs hope to put themselves in contention for a last-four spot.
"Last April when the Dubs came up short in their league final decider with Cork, there were some worrying signs that certainly didn't point to Sam Maguire.
"However, the lessons learned by management from that additional match, played at an entirely different pace to the earlier rounds of the league, were clearly visible in the closing minutes of the All-Ireland football final.
"It's in this context that the importance of getting one of those last-four berths should become the focus now for Dublin.
"When you consider how little football Alan and particularly Bernard Brogan have played this year, and that Kevin Nolan has only now returned to the fold while Cian O'Sullivan is still out, a couple of additional matches will not only help these guys bed in again, but will also provide management with a real opportunity to iron out any potential weaknesses ahead of their championship defence."