Overseeing the academy and youth team at Belle Vue at the time, it was clear that McGuinness had targetted a career in management, and his link between the young players at the club and the senior team made it a natural appointment as the club looked to get back to basics during what had become a difficult season. The story also took on an extra twist as his father Laurie joined him as his assistant.
“It's a pleasure to work with him,” said the young McGuinness about his father to BBC Sport Wales following his appointment. “It's a big thing in football to have trust and respect, and we've got that, and he's got the experience, knowledge and passion. We'll bounce off each other and we'll give ideas to one another. It means a lot to us and there's no-one that will try any harder than us two for the team. With me being a Rhyl lad, this job is close to my heart.”
Relegation was avoided on a technicality, but a year later the club found themselves demoted to the second tier following another difficult season. McGuinness stepped down from his first senior management position in October 2017, still aged just 26. But rather than find himself scarred by his sharp elevation, he found himself back in the hot-seat just six weeks later as he took charge of his current club, Flint Town United.
“Experience is the most important thing for any young coach,” explained McGuinness to Sgorio recently as he reflected on his journey. “You learn from your experiences. It was great because I was thrown in at the deep end and I learnt so much. If I knew then what I know now I may not have taken the job, but I was passionate and I wanted to have a go at that level. I think anyone who has that mentality would have taken the job. We fell short in the end, but it wasn't for the lack of trying, we just didn't have that consistency.”
Now, older and wiser for his experience, McGuinness returns to the top-flight this season having guided Flint Town United to the JD Cymru Premier after three seasons at the club, and he is still yet to celebrate his 30th birthday. “It's a huge achievement for the football club and we're looking forward to the challenge,” he added. “I'm really looking forward to challenging myself again at this level. It's been a gradual process and not a quick-fix as we needed to put more of a structure to it. It's been hard work, but I'm delighted for everyone involved to have taken the club back into the top-flight.”
The new JD Cymru Premier season starts next weekend. Visit cymrufootball.wales for more.