“Of course what did I do? I stuck out the hand and pushed him away.”
And the current Wexford manager has recalled a half-time dispute that took place in a league game a few years ago.
The two-time All-Ireland winner as a player told the humourous half-time story from the Clare and Cork game on the 2 Johnnies podcast.
“So, we’re down about six points below in Pairc Ui Rinn on a Saturday night,” Fitzgerald recalled.
“Big crowd there. They got the best of us in the first half and I’m just thinking to myself at half-time, ‘What can we do f***ing here like, what can we do here’.
“And I remember… I think it was Patrick Horgan who hit Donal O’Donovan. It was a dirty enough clip, nothing crazy.
“So I was walking in, I went to Donny who had a few Cork lads beside him.
“I said ‘Donny, you have my full f***ing permission to do whatever you want to do in the second half. If it means you have to break someone, break them’.”
The former Clare manager made sure he said it just loud enough so a few of the Cork players around the area could hear exactly what was said. A fight ensued.
“Well the Cork lads are losing it because I said it loud enough so they could hear,” Fitzgerald explained.
“So then Jimmy Barry (Murphy) and a few of their management turned back and they went ballistic.
“They started a confrontation with me.
“Oh it got fairly rough but I can remember – I think it was Johnny Crowley right.
“And I remember looking at him and thinking to myself – ‘Lads, if he gets a go at me I’m f***ed’ – he was a big lad.
“And Johnny said to me – ‘you’re all talk, you’ve nothing to back it up.’
“Of course what did I do? I stuck out the hand and pushed him away.
“But, I was happy enough there were a few Clare boys around to break it up.”
The ex-Clare goalkeeper was determined to use the half-time fight as motivation for his players who were six points down at the break.
“There was absolute mayhem. How Cork got involved with me and be up six points I don’t know,” Fitzgerald added.
“But before I went into the dressing room I just caught my shirt and I ripped it myself before I went in.
“Well I went in and I says, ‘Lads, I’m after defending you outside there for the last ten minutes, I’m after fighting with him.’
” ‘You’ve done nothing outside there for the last half an hour. Are you going to let them walk on top of you?’ ”
Fitzgerald paused dramatically before gleefully smiling and saying: “We went out and won by six.”
You can watch the clip here.