Sutcliffe: We can't afford to drop off in Laois
"It is massive," says Danny Sutcliffe, referring to the Dublin hurlers' trip to Laois this Sunday, where the two sides loitering in the bottom half of division 1B will clash for the fourth and final spot in the league quarter-finals.
A relegation play-off with Antrim awaits the loser, so for this stage of the season the stakes couldn't be any higher. But despite being overwhelming favourites, nothing is being taken for granted among Pat Gilroy's charges, who've managed just one win from four this year - a single-point victory over Antrim.
"It's a tough place to go," says Sutcliffe of O'Moore Park. "They really get behind them, especially if they get a bit of momentum. They really get loud. But we can't start looking at the consequences of what happens after, which is tough."
It is, in essence, a knock-out game, though Sutcliffe believes that to escape with a place in the quarter-finals the Dubs have to treat it like any other. "If you divert from that, you're in trouble," he says. "We've to try and consistently be competitive for 70 minutes. We can't drop off for 10 or 15; it's game over if we do."
Sutcliffe returned to the Dublin side late last year, having opted out of the inter-county set-up ahead of the 2016 campaign to concentrate on his studies and subsequently work in New York. He struggled with a hamstring injury in recent weeks but says he will be available for selection ahead of Sunday's showdown.
Reflecting on his time away, the 26-year-old said he will continue to keep hurling down the pecking order in his overall priorities. "I work everything around [hurling] but I think what people forget in this country what it actually is," he says.
"It takes up a lot of time but you have to realise there's more to life. Your career and job and lifestyle in general, I wouldn't let it be affected because I'm playing inter-county. That's not saying you don't put everything into it.
"I'm lucky enough I can do both, but I wouldn't do something now just to accommodate an inter-county career - not a hope."