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training day

Think this staffer would make a good garda? Here's 35 reasons why not...

100 new recruits will start in Templemore in the next few weeks. College staff spent yesterday giving journalists a taster of what the students will be facing.

98FM’s Frank Greaney: crime reporter/wearer of shorts.

FOR SOME REASON, everybody else knew to bring shorts and t-shirt.

Perhaps there had been a Garda College email, specifying dress code, that I’d missed out on? Maybe they delivered a letter by courier that, somehow, wasn’t furnished to me in a timely manner?

Or perhaps the other members of the fourth estate who took up the force’s invitation to come down and face a fitness test had known to pack the appropriate gear merely by reading the words ‘fitness test’ on the original press release.

“Sure it would be more realistic in your civvies anyway,” came a suggestion.


“If you’d rather not sure that’s grand too.”

We’d been told to get good photos, was the problem…

In fairness, that was always going to be a tall order, but now the best we could hope for was pictures of a slightly groggy-looking reporter trundling his way around comically tiny obstacles in boots that could easily knock a hole in a mid-sized glacier.


Sure those traffic cones weren’t going to run around themselves…

*        *        *       *       *

What were we all doing in Templemore anyway?

Well, seeking a little positive PR after a rough (to say the least) last year-or-so, the Gardaí had invited the media down to Tipperary for an open day ahead of the new intake of recruits — their first since 2009.

After a chat with some of the College top brass about the changes to the course (less rote-learning, more problem-solving, essentially) they were keen to show off everything Templemore had to offer.

Which was why we were in the gym at 11 o’clock in the morning being put through our paces by a no-nonsense sergeant and an irritatingly fit-looking PE teacher…

‘You all have shorts and t-shirt, yes?’

The garda hopefuls due down next month are considered the “cream of the crop” we’d been told. They’d all already passed their basic fitness tests.

Now it was our turn…

The course we were faced with didn’t look all that taxing, to be honest — but there was a general view that the time-limit was more of a concern.

For part one of the test, candidates would be expected to run through the obstacles, lift tyres, pull a surprisingly heavy dummy across the floor, duck under barriers and (a very, very Irish touch this) jump a farm gate… Then do it again. Twice. All in under 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

Part two? For that, we’d be clambering aboard the college’s push-pull machine: essentially a strength-testing device that measures how much force a person can apply by (there’s a clue in the name) pushing and pulling as hard as possible.

How did we get on? Flying the flag for the interwebs, Ireland’s no. 1 online news source (TM) was up first…

Video / YouTube

Youtube: Although, really, it’s just a man pushing bit of metal a bit and gurning.

Surprisingly, I was 15 seconds faster than I needed to be — and scored almost double the pass mark for the push-pull test (43kg, the minimum is 25 — and yes, that counts as ‘almost double’).*

They must be letting anybody into the guards these days, you’d be forgiven for thinking. If the 24,000 hopefuls who applied had been faced with just this relatively undemanding fitness trial, Templemore staff would be out painting 23,900 extra parking spots in the college grounds right now.

Then again, that’s probably why they sent them all those aptitude tests. And carried out all those interviews.

*     *      *      *      *

Not that there’d be any danger of them “fitting me up for a uniform” as one senior garda had suggested, post-test (having surmised that, if required, I was probably the sort of fellow who could push a small hatchback out of a shallow ditch).

“What’s the cut off age for new gardaí anyway?” I’d asked, first thing that morning (knowing that — like considering a career in professional football or installing Snapchat — it was probably the sort of thing I was just too old for).

“35,” one of the college’s top trainers replied.

“Well, what’s the cut off?… I was born in February?”

“Yeah. Yeah… I’m afraid you’re too old.”

Their loss… Well, there’s always the FBI.


*Quite a bit stronger, but no-where near as quick on my feet as the Irish Daily Star, the Mirror, or 98FM. ‘It’s all about leverage,’ the chap assessing the push-pull thing told me afterwards — implying, of course, that I wasn’t even that strong, just a bit tall. 

All photographs: Jenny Russell

Read: Inside Ireland’s Police Academy: Here’s what the new batch of Garda recruits will be facing…

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