Another good news story for Wexford handball as Michael Rossiter returns
Written by Antoin Ó Braoin, Rúnaí Contae
Back in the 1990’s he was a top Masters (aged 40 and over) player for his club and county and now after a self-imposed break of 14 years Michael Rossiter from Ballyhogue Handball Club is back on court once more.
Widely regarded as extremely difficult to beat in his heyday, the wily Rossiter has kept himself in great shape in the intervening period and now competing in the county Emerald Masters B singles and Junior B singles championships, he is poised to make a major impact in the knockout stages of both competitions.
14 years is a long time to be away from any sport but the Ballyhogue clubman had a lifetime of handball played prior to his ‘retirement’ and like all who have achieved a high level of fitness from playing what the Americans call the ‘perfect game’, he simply took up a different form of activity when he decided to take a break from the sport. Now he is back and if his performances thus far in the championships have told us anything at all, it is that his competitive instinct is still very much intact. That is bad news for all who have ambitions to win either of those aforementioned competitions.
Rossiter enjoyed considerable success at both club and county level in the 80’s and 90’s and he is still the only Wexford player to have won the Irish Nationals Masters B singles title two years in succession. That happened back in 1998 and 1999 when he was literally unbeatable in his age group. Indeed it was only by an ace that he failed to make it three in a row in 2000 when he was pipped in the final by Pat Ryan, Tipperary, whom he had defeated in the previous year’s semi final. He was also an important member of the Wexford team of 10 that triumphed in the Special 75th Anniversary team championship organised by the Irish Handball Council to commemorate the 75 years of the GAA and in partnership with fellow Ballyhogue player John O’Rourke he enjoyed considerable success at domestic level in a variety of competitions and championships spread over a long period of years.
An out and out 40×20 player, his trademark roof shots are still as effective as they ever were and in a county where only a small number of players have this shot in their armory, fewer still use it effectively as either an offensive or defensive weapon. By contrast Michael Rossiter has mastered the art of overhead play and this energy sapping strategy ensues that while the pace of the game is slower, the rallies are considerably longer. Some might wonder as to the wisdom of extending the playing time in such a fashion given his 14 years away from the court but remarkably, from the evidence of his matches so far, it is his opponents rather than himself who appear to be the most inconvenienced.
It’s almost as if those 14 years never happened!