How beating Dublin is like running a mile in under four minutes
Sir Rodger Bannister, Mayo, and the four-minute mile.
On the 6th of May 1954, Sir Roger Bannister became the first person to run one mile in under four minutes, an achievement that was deemed impossible at this time.
Scientists and 'experts' claimed that it wasn't possible for the human body to run one mile at such a pace, and as runners worldwide had spent decades attempting, it but coming up short, there was no reason to doubt this fact.
So when Bannister crossed that finish line, making history as the first man to do the impossible, he was of course put on a pedestal of having stratospheric abilities - deemed to be a one-off or a freak of nature.
However, the most interesting thing is that Bannister's record only lasted a mere 46 days, when his rival John Landy, also then reached this milestone.
Today, 1,497 people have managed to follow in Bannister's incredibly fast shoes, and although that is still a small amount of the global population - and the achievement is still one of huge significance - the idea of it being 'impossible' was banished the very second he crossed that line nearly 70 years ago.
The aura of impossibility was vanquished, the physical proof was there for everyone to see it, and those who can see, will believe. It's best summed up by the poet Edgar Guest in his poem It couldn't be done.
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
Before the All-Ireland semi-final last summer, it was deemed by many that Dublin's seventh All-Ireland victory was inevitable, a foregone conclusion and that the championship would be a story of how they did it, rather than if they would.
They had not lost a championship game since 2014, which was then at the hands of a Donegal side led by Jim McGuinness, and since then, no matter how close teams had come, nobody could get over the line.
In 2020 they basically sleep-walked through the whole tournament, barely breaking a sweat as they went on to lift the most prized possession in the game.
Their invincibility caused ripples throughout the entire sport, as pundits debated over how changing some rules could benefit other teams - championship restructures, or maybe even split the Dublin team in two?
How else would anyone have even a hope of lifting the Sam Maguire, when the unbeatable blue force of the capital was as unmovable and unflappable as ever?
Well, just like Rodger Bannister back in 1954, Mayo went out to tackle the impossible in 2021 - to do what couldn't be done - and they did it.
In extra time the mighty blues had fallen and not only did this secure Mayo's place in the All-Ireland final, it completely abolished the myth surrounding Dublin's dominance.
Since that faithful game, the once indestructible team have started the new season's campaign with back-to-back losses, to Armagh and Kerry successively.
Just as Bannister had shown everyone it is indeed possible to run a four-minute mile, Mayo have shown the GAA that the capital is there to be capitalised on.
Two losses in a row would have been unthinkable just months ago, and they weren't just losses, as Armagh battered them pillar to post in Croke Park (of all places), and despite a hearty first-half performance from Hill 16's heroes, Kerry came out as comfortable winners in the end.
The myth, the essence and air of invincibility that has followed this team, is shattered to pieces, and now, everyone is out for blood.
Tonight, the Dubs have a chance to start rebuilding that presence they once had, piece by piece, as they face the catalyst of their poor run of form, James Horan's Mayo.
In Croke Park, where the impossible was done last year, the Connacht champions are returning to a much different atmosphere, with different pressures.
Now they are the favourites, and Dessie Farrell's side becomes the plucky underdogs who are down on their luck, hoping to turn it all around.
It may only be the league, but three losses in a row would be catastrophic for any team with hopes to win an All-Ireland this year, so it's a game of the utmost importance for the blue army.
Of course, it's not impossible, and if it were, it only would be until they did it.