Ballyhogue's Billy Rossiter captures first All Ireland singles title in brilliant style
An iron resolve to win his first ever All Ireland singles title and the skill to carry out the task were both absolutely necessary at Na Fianna yesterday where Billy Rossiter realised a lifelong ambition by beating Eugene Maloney, Mayo 21-3, 20-21, 21-7 in the Diamond Masters B Singles final.
Rossiter got off to a flyer at the Dublin venue and when he took that opening game by a facile 21-3 it appeared he was in for an easy afternoons work. The Wexfordman was keeping his opponent at the back of the court and applying the finish with considerable ease but that was to change dramatically in a nail biting second.
A good start to that second game by Maloney appeared to give him renewed belief as he went into a 4-0 lead and while Rossiter got back to 4-3 it was the Connacht champion who was getting the better of the exchanges in those early stages. He led 7-3, 12-7 and 14-11 before Rossiter levelled for the first time at 14-14 and when the Wexfordman got his nose in front at 15-14, it appeared he was on the road to victory.
From there to the finish it ebbed and flowed as Maloney led 17-15 and 20-17 before Rossiter squared things up at 20-20. It was ‘edge of the seat’ stuff at Na Fianna as supporters urged on both men and when Moloney finally made it home by the minimum margin of 21-20 few begrudged him his chance at a third game.
Each had given their all in that second game but now it was time to do so again. The prize for the victor was great, a winners medal and the right to be called All Ireland champion, for the runner-up it was a case of ‘next year’. In order to win this title fatigue would have to be parked and as for aches and pains, well, what about them?
It was 3-3 in the very early stages before Rossiter slowly but surely got on top. Once again it was he who was bossing the shortline and he who was finding the corners with probing deliveries. Yes there was still a lot of running to be done and a lot of rallies to be won but the months of competing in the Wexford championship and all of the training was about to pay off.
At 13-4 to Rossiter, Maloney had already taken two of his three time outs and with the Wexfordman keeping up a relentless pace there was simply no denying who wanted it the most. From there it was all Rossiter as he increased his advantage to 17-6 before running out a comprehensive 21-7 winner.
It was a victory fashioned on hard work and preparation, as well as a never say die attitude and it went to a man who left no stone unturned in his bid to win this title.
All Ireland championships deserve no less!