The All-Ireland-winning manager had a year remaining on the original three-year term he was given in October 2011, but Banner chiefs have opted to extend that following the county’s first Liam MacCarthy Cup win since 1997.
In addition to the extension of Fitzgerald’s tenure, Clare also appointed a new football manager last night, with Colm Collins ratified for a three-year term.
Collins, father of hurlers Podge and Seán Collins, has previously managed the county’s U21 side as well as club side Cratloe. He will be assisted by Ger Keane, a selector under previous manager Mick O’Dwyer this year, who will also manage the U21s.
Meanwhile Colm Begley believes the International Rules series has been overly-sanitised and that there is nothing wrong with ‘two players going at it’.
The Laois man and former AFL professional claimed the hybrid game has lost a vital edge after introducing rules to tone down aggression.
He admitted things went ‘a bit crazy’ in 2006 when Australia infamously predicted ‘open slather’ on Ireland and subsequently knocked out Meath’s Graham Geraghty with a crunching tackle.
But former Brisbane Lions and St Kilda player Begley said that a level of aggression is vital if supporters are to buy into the concept.
“The physicality was something (positive),” said Begley ahead of Saturday’s decisive second test at Croke Park. “In 2006, it went overboard but maybe it has been pulled back too much. I think they need to let that back into the game. There is fierce passion and fierce pride in both teams. I don’t see the problem in two players at it, toe to toe and having a bit of push and shove.
“You saw when (Lance) Franklin knocked over (Ciarán) Kilkenny, that got the biggest roar of the game,” continued Begley.
Begley predicted at yesterday’s launch of the series decider that Australia will ramp up the intensity and play to their strengths this weekend.
“I have a feeling, a real good feeling from talking to Tadhg (Kennelly) and to Mick O’Loughlin that they’ll come out with a bit of hurt pride and it will be a fiery game,” said the Stradbally man.
“Not a dirty game but a fiery game. I think it’s the first time in 150 years that an indigenous team has come over.
“They’re very, very proud people and have a very proud way of going about things.”
And he welcomed the appointment of Tomas Ó Flathárta as new Laois manager, claiming the Kerryman will inherit a team that has underachieved. Ireland manager Paul Earley has had to make two changes to his squad for this weekend’s second Test. A hamstring tear rules Galway defender Finian Hanley out and his place goes to former vice-captain Ciarán McKeever who rejoins the panel after Cullyhanna’s Armagh county final defeat to Crossmaglen.
John Doyle also re-joins the match day panel and takes the place of Aidan O’Shea who is involved in the Mayo SFC final with his club Breaffy.