He was once the youngest manager in Europe’s top flight leagues.
Today, he reaches the landmark age of 30. Happy birthday Niall McGuinness !
Born on May 14, 1991, Niall has packed an awful lot onto his football CV for someone of his tender years.
In a playing career featuring spells with Derwen Rovers, Chester City, Wrexham, Prestatyn, Denbigh and Rhyl FC, he retired at 22 to concentrate on coaching.
And the move paid off as two years later he was manager of his hometown club Rhyl FC in the Welsh Premier League at the age of 24.
That big chance came in February 2016 after the Lilywhites had sacked manager Gareth Owen, the former Wrexham midfielder who had been a star performer for Rhyl as a player, but failed to reproduce that in the dugout.
Niall was the club’s Academy Director at the time, also managing the youth team, but such had been the impression he made, he was asked to steer the Lilies away from relegation with eight games of the 2015-16 season to go.
He was successful, but only because next-to-bottom Rhyl were spared the drop after Port Talbot Town, who finished a place above the Lilywhites, failed to obtain a domestic licence.
The following season saw the Belle Vue club in trouble again and this time they were relegated after ending up 11th out of 12.
While Niall remained in charge at the start of the 2017-18 season, Rhyl did not pull up any trees on their return to the tier 2 Cymru Alliance and a 3-2 Welsh Cup defeat at lower league Llandudno Albion on October 7, 2017, led to the manager’s departure.
It had not all been gloom and doom, one particular highpoint being a 3-1 home win against Aberystwyth Town just days after the Lilywhites had suffered a record 10-0 WPL defeat at The New Saints. The team never lacked fight under McGuinness. He also did not have the luxury of the type of generous budgets afforded to previous managers at Belle Vue.
Niall did not dwell on his Rhyl experience as a month later he took charge at Cymru Alliance club Flint Town United.
In his first campaign at the helm, the Silkmen won the Cymru Alliance League Cup, beating Gresford Athletic 8-7 on penalties in the final.
The following two seasons saw Flint secure back-to-back runners-up spots in the Cymru Alliance, the latter clinching them a return to the Cymru Premier for the first time in 22 years, with champions Prestatyn Town denied promotion over a licensing issue.
McGuinness also guided the Silkmen to the Welsh Cup quarter-finals in 2019-20, knocking out Welsh Premier side Bala Town 2-0 at the Essity Stadium along the way.
Sadly, the Welsh Premier comeback did not go so well. With just three wins achieved in 14 league matches, Niall left Flint in December 2020 with the team lying next to bottom.
Typically, Niall has continued determinedly on his football journey, doing much to benefit the development of up and coming Rhyl-based club NFA, as well as running his McGuinness 1-2-1 Football Coaching business.
As holder of a UEFA Senior ‘A’ Coaching licence as well as a UEFA ‘A’ Youth Elite Licence, he is highly qualified to take up another big challenge, as and when it comes.
Niall has never been afraid of jumping in at the deep end and he retains a strong belief that all of his football experiences to date, good and not so great, will stand him in fine stead for the future.
In the meantime, he remains a popular and respected football coach with hopefully many successes to come.
Happy birthday Niall – someone very special will be with you in spirit today, so proud of what you have achieved, your determination to succeed and what a great dad you are to Lucas and Arthur and loving partner to Rebekah.