Dublin ladies football manager Mick Bohan has admitted his side can't afford any further slip-ups after they were edged out by Cork in Division One of the Lidl National Football League at Croke Park on Saturday evening.
Following a previous home draw with Tipperary in the opening round of the campaign, the Jackies now find themselves five points adrift of the table-topping Leesiders. Only the top-two teams will advanced beyond the group stages of the league in 2020 and Bohan is hoping they can rediscover their best form in the coming weeks.
"The way it pans out we now have no room for error. We've to win all of the remaining games if we're to appear in the league final," Bohan remarked in the aftermath of Saturday's game.
"Away from that, en route to that, we're just looking to play the game at the highest level we can. That's certainly not what we did out there."
After getting the better of Mayo in a Castlebar curtain-raiser seven days earlier, the Sky Blues were searching for a fourth consecutive victory over Cork at GAA HQ. This included an All-Ireland final success against the Rebelettes in 2018, but Ephie Fitzgerald's visitors were the sharper side during the early exchanges of their latest encounter.
Melissa Duggan burst forward from centre-back to kick a fifth-minute point and this was soon followed by a brace of Orla Finn efforts. While Carla Rowe failed to convert a gilt-edged goal chance, her own two-point salvo finally got Dublin up and running.
Yet, Cork subsequently reasserted their authority with Finn once again to the fore. She raised white flags in the 19th and 24th minutes respectively to leave Dublin three points in arrears (0-5 to 0-2) at the interval.
The Munster giants sensed they could push on to even greater heights on the resumption and they stretched further in front when dynamic midfielder Hannah Looney split the uprights either side of another Finn free. Dublin needed something to kick their challenge into gear and they finally got it on the third-quarter mark.
Following a foul on her Clann Mhuire club-mate Oonagh Whyte, Rowe coolly slotted a penalty beyond the reach of Martina O'Brien. This looked set to spark a revival from the hosts and they eventually added to their account when O'Brien superbly tipped over Hannah O'Neill's powerful strike on the hour.
Dublin were beginning to gather momentum and Lyndsey Davey - who appeared off the bench for her first appearance of the season - narrowed the gap to the bare minimum with a well-worked score. Rowe had an opportunity to claim a share of the spoils at the death, but her tricky free drifted past the target.
In addition to the disappointment of losing their first competitive fixture since last April, Bohan had to contend with a long-term injury to star player Lauren Magee - who was withdrawn early on in the second half.
"It looks like she has broken her collarbone, so that looks like the end of the National League for Lauren. I'm not quite sure how it happened, I think someone might have landed down on top of her.
"Unfortunately, that's a blow for her and for us. I think the recovery period is about 12 weeks. We'll have her back for early summer, but that's a set-back," Bohan said.