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Meet and greet night to draw in GAA supporters

The threat of competition from Euro 2012 and the Olympics has prompted the GAA to kick-start a massive marketing drive to try to keep bums on seats this summer.

Every county PRO in the country has been invited to attend a presentation at Croke Park on Sunday at which new president Liam O'Neill is expected to outline their plans and stress the need to step up promotional activities in coming months.

The meeting is also believed to be linked to a recent directive instructing all counties to roll out their players for a meet-and-greet session with fans and media on one appointed evening next month.

This is the GAA's most proactive move yet to stave off competition from other sports in what is expected to be a huge battle for sporting audiences this summer.

Every county chairman has received a letter directing them to organise this open event with their senior teams on Friday, May 11.

They have been told it must take place between 7.00-8.30pm, that there cannot be any matches that evening (including challenge games) and this also precludes any inter-county training.

The meet-and-greet takes place just eight days before a hectic sporting weekend on May 19-20, which includes both the Heineken Cup and Champions League finals, as well as the start of the Leinster SHC and most of the provincial football championships.

“This event will only succeed if it happens in every county, on the same night and at the same time,” the directive instructs.

“We are relying on every county to co-operate in what will be a strong statement of our intention to vigorously promote the 2012 championships.”

Director general Paraic Duffy recently acknowledged the difficulty when he said: “It's going to take a huge effort, we will have to market our games like never before.”

Belfast Telegraph