Age: 26 years old.
Current club: Rhyl FC.
Former clubs (played for): Prestatyn Town, Denbigh Town and Rhyl FC.
THIS article is a first for AFEFootballNews as I have not yet interviewed any managers, but what better way to start than with one of the brightest young managers around?
At just 26 years of age, baby-faced Niall McGuinness is one of the youngest managers around, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a well-known figure within Welsh football.
Appointed as first team manager of Rhyl in February of 2016, he was given the tough task of trying to keep the Lillywhite’s in the Welsh Premier League, being appointed at a time where they had been struggling. Eventually, they avoided the drop despite finishing 11th due to 10th placed Port Talbot being unable to obtain an FAW License and so they went down in their place.
Niall became prominent in the headlines across the country, as one of the youngest managers ever of a Senior League across Europe and had shown signs that he could become the man to take Rhyl forward.
Last season proved to be much tougher as competition became sterner and Rhyl finished 11th again, this time being subsequently relegated to the Cymru Alliance ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 season.
However, although his side went down, McGuinness has most certainly shown signs of being a “next big thing” within Welsh management, having recently completed his UEFA / FAW Youth A License course again becoming one of the youngest to do so.
Ahead of the Welsh Alliance campaign, Niall alongside his father Laurie, who is his assistant manager at the club, expects the club to make a real go of bouncing back to the Premier Division at the first attempt …
AFE: what inspired you to pursue a life in football management?
NM: I’d say it was my real passion and drive for the game.
I come from a big footballing family and so football is something that I’ve always been involved in and I have always wanted to work towards becoming a coach or a manager within the game.
AFE: You’ve just completed the UEFA A license course now, how was that journey to the qualification for you? What was the highlight?
NM: The course was fantastic and I think it’s really guided me to become a better coach/manager.
The people on it were great and the staff involved are just fantastic to learn from.
The highlight for me would have to be listening to and hearing ideas from pro’s such as Kevin Nolan, Leon Britton and Jack Collison.
AFE: Who would you say is the manager that you look up to the most?
NM: Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho & Brian Clough are my all time favourites.
In terms of the WPL I think there are a number of managers who have done some excellent work. I think Andy Morrison’s (Connah’s Quay) organisation & meticulous pre-game analysis is quite clear to see especially when you look at the recent result they had against Helsinki.
I also can’t knock the work done by Colin Caton (Bala Town) and Craig Harrison (former TNS) obviously before moving on to Hartlepool this summer.
Huw Griffiths (Cefn Druids) is another one who achieved massively last season and I feel that his side will get even stronger this year.
AFE: Were you a keen footballer yourself before going into management? Who did you play for?
NM: Yes, I played football from the age of five years old.
I played for Chester City & Wrexham AFC Academy till the age of 16, then I played for Prestatyn Town, Denbigh Town and Rhyl FC before eventually packing it in to concentrate fully on my coaching/managerial career.
AFE: Finally Niall, last season was obviously a tough one for Rhyl as a club, how do you think you and all the new signings at the club and so on, can bounce back now to try and get make a return to the Welsh Prem?
NM: Yeah, of course last season was a tough one, but it was also a huge learning curve and step in the plan of our restructuring at the club.
I do now believe that we are in a much better place as a football club and the team is undoubtedly stronger than it has been.
Our aim will be to win the Cymru Alliance but we know it is going to be a very difficult task.
Thanks for chatting Niall. AFEFootballNews would like to wish both you and Rhyl Football Club the very best of luck with your quest to get back into the Welsh Premier League next season.