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GAA.ie given a revamp to stay 'relevant' in communication era

IT'S a brave new interactive world out there, and a rapidly changing one too. The GAA has now hopped aboard the information super highway with the launch of its revamped website, www.gaa.ie, by association president Christy Cooney.

Any regular browsers of the old website -- especially those with 'techi' tendencies -- were acutely aware that the GAA was behind the times and needed a more vibrant connection via cyperspace to its vast membership.

The new website goes a long way towards bridging that gap, and it's clear from even a cursory perusal of its extended features that this is a vastly improved product. But, as former GAA president Nickey Brennan outlined at yesterday's Croke Park launch, this is only phase one of the new website and is not the finished product; that the website must keep developing.

In truth, in an era where the modes of electronic communication are constantly evolving and where everyone now wants information at the press of a button, it can't be any other way.

Brennan was speaking in his role as chairman of Croke Park's IT committee and the Kilkenny man has played a hands-on role in bringing the new website to fruition. He outlined how the GAA has to "embrace the whole social network" arena and how young people now communicate, adding: "I hope to bring the GAA into this whole communication era because we need to be there."

Director of Communcations Lisa Clancy touched on the same theme, when wondering aloud what the GAA's founding fathers, Davin and Cusack, would think of Twitter and Facebook. But given their objective was the promotion of Gaelic games, they would obviously want the GAA itself to lead the way instead of relying on others. "We have to be relevant now," said Clancy -- and that meant being a modern, dynamic organisation that is able to compete with other sports.

Video will play an important role in the new venture, most notably with training videos now featuring in the coaching and games development section. GAA journalists and statistical junkies will be pleased to hear that all the stats from the late Raymond Smith's Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games are finally available online. The aim is to make www.gaa.ie the "central repository" of GAA statistics, explained Gary Finn of the Croke Park communications team.

Of even greater relevance, however, are the features designed to satisfy the voracious information demands of the wider GAA membership. The clubzone section will be key to this while Croker is also in the process of developing a new website template that every GAA club in the country can tap into at "minimal cost".