Of Munster's six home fixtures announced for the opening 13 rounds of this season's PRO12, four have been scheduled for a Friday evening at Thomond Park. Fitzgerald provides insight into how match fixtures are decided upon.
"The dates and times of the games are decided by the TV companies contracted to Celtic Rugby Ltd to transmit the games. TV income is a major contributor to the funding of Irish Rugby and while teams can submit their preferred dates to broadcasters, understandably not every request can be facilitated in a league schedule that must accommodate 12 teams and fit in around other televised sporting events.
"Sky Sports have come on board this year and will cover 32 of the PRO12 games and as per their contract, all games on Sky will be played and transmitted on Saturday afternoons or evenings, and to the best of my knowledge, unless Sky are involved, no other broadcaster can transmit games on a Saturday.
"TG4 transmit games from Ireland, in Scotland there's BBC Alba, while S4C and BBC Wales broadcast games from Wales. As we stand at the moment we are awaiting confirmation on who will transmit games from Italy and Northern Ireland. In compliance with the contract agreed by Sky, these broadcasters can only transmit games on Friday, Sunday or any other day bar Saturday.
"Consequently participating teams do not have a choice on when they play their games. The only exception to this are teams that have football teams playing in their stadia. There may be a clash of fixtures that will determine when the game is played. For example, Ospreys must give precedence to Premiership football team Swansea for fixtures in the Liberty Stadium."
Despite the Round 3 Zebre encounter at Thomond Park not being televised, the game has still been scheduled for Friday September 19th - the Munster CEO explains why.
"We were advised at very late notice that the game would not be televised which in turn allowed the home team to determine the night and kick-off time of the game. We initially believed the game would take place in Italy, but as the fixtures are subject to change the game was reverted back to Limerick. This resulted in a clash with another event that was already timetabled for Thomond Park. Therefore the game could only go ahead on Friday evening.
"With that all said we're happy that Friday evenings in September represent a good time to have games. Going on recent years the weather is traditionally good, an Indian summer so to speak, and this coupled with the long evenings should make for good match conditions for both players and fans alike. Friday evenings also afford families the opportunity to enjoy the game and still have the whole weekend at their disposal.
"Add to this that we hope have some of our full internationals playing in Rounds 2 and 3, which is earlier than in previous seasons, and it gives fans a great opportunity to see our big name players line out alongside new emerging talent as Munster embark on a new era under Head Coach Anthony Foley.
"I think there will be a lot of local interest given the new all Irish management team and I would urge supporters to come along and support them, and see their fruits of their labour following an intensive two months of pre-season.
"On a final note let me remind fans of the new spectator experience that awaits them in the New Year at a redeveloped Musgrave Park (soon to be renamed Irish Independent Park). With work well underway and due for completion in December, a new West Stand will seat 3,500 people while across the pitch the East Terrace is to be fully covered. The stadium will offer new catering and shop facilities, and with the capacity increasing to 9,500, even more fans will be able to enjoy the Munster Rugby experience in Cork".
Munster open their 2014/15 Guinness PRO12 at home to Edinburgh Rugby on September 5th, KO 19:35. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here.
A full list of fixture dates and kick-off times can be seen by clicking here.