For success, Irish rugby captain Niamh Briggs has two simple rules.
At work, she believes in the power of gentle persuasion... and at play her goal is to mow down anything that moves.
Garda Briggs yesterday embarked on her daily work routine in Limerick, foot patrolling what were once among the most troubled estates in the country.
Her patch as community garda takes in Southill, Carew Park, and Ballinacurra Weston.
After finishing her shift she was packing her bags for Wales where on Sunday she will lead the Irish women’s international rugby side.
Two contrasting roles, but she relishes both.
Niamh, 30, who hails from Abbeyside, Co Waterford, has been stationed at Roxboro Road Garda Station since she graduated from Templemore six years ago.
She says: “I love the work in the community. We try to be a point of contact for local people and be available and visible to them. We build up a rapport with the community, so walking around is very important, chatting to people. It’s not about the crime aspect of garda work, but just letting people know you are there.
“I have met some of the finest people I have ever known in the communities here. There are some lovely people in these areas.”
Celebrating a historic win over New Zealand at last year’s World Cup.
Twice a week Niamh, along with her colleagues Sean Buckley, Keith McCarthy, and Adrian Healy, take 15 boys and girls aged eight to 14 to Garryowen rugby club for games sessions on the all-weather pitch, followed by a meal in the clubhouse.
“You build up great friendships with the community through working with the kids,” Niamh says. “There is a respect there that builds as you get to know the kids. We go out after school from 4pm to around 7pm. Barbara Bermingham, the FAI development officer, also comes with us. She works with kids in schools. It gets them out, gets them active, keeps them out of trouble and gives them an outlet. A couple times a year, we take them to soccer games at the Aviva and to rugby games at Thomond Park.”
Sgt Mick Nash, who hurled for Limerick, heads Niamh’s community policing unit.
“We share out the work and when we go out we kind of mix and match, given the times we are on,” says Niamh. “We visit the two local primary schools and liaise with teachers. It is a very important part of policing as it gives you an inlet to the community and helps break down barriers.
“I love going down to the community centre in Weston for a cup of coffee and the West End youth centre beside it. They have a great little community spirit down there in fairness.
“Times can be hard for some people, but they are great. Limerick is a home from home for me. I am very much a home bird, but I consider Limerick my home and have no ambition to move. It’s like a big town. Big enough to get lost in and small enough to be found.”
On Sunday, Niamh will lead out Ireland for her 49th cap. As fullback, she is the last line of defence.
“At work I believe in talking through difficult situations if they arise,” she says. “But out in an international rugby game, as fullback, you are the last line of defence and you have to ensure you put in the tackles and there are no prisoners.”
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