Meet the Man Utd FA Youth Cup hero who was watched 19 times before challenging Patrice Evra


Sean McGinty was part of Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup win in 2011 and has his sights set on a first-team career after being heavily scouted by the Red Devils

Sean McGinty joined Man Utd after being heavily scouted
Sean McGinty joined Man Utd after being heavily scouted

Manchester United‘s Scouts clearly like being thorough in their work, so much so that former youth product Sean McGinty has been viewed 19 times.

The current Ayr United centre-back started his career at Charlton Athletic, who joined the Addicks in 2013. The now 29-year-old, who started out as a central midfielder, was warned by his coach that a future as a defender could await him. Soon enough, McGinty found himself a 14-year-old playing for the club’s Under-18s and playing for the Republic of Ireland at Under-17 level. Little did he know he was being watched by one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Charlton repulsed United’s original offer before accepting the second and the teenager headed north-west. That was a big step up, but the Addicks played against similar opponents, so McGinty never felt out of place even as his teammates rose in level.

He told Mirror Football: “There was a Man Utd scout who watched me 19 times for Charlton and Ireland. At the end of that season he got in touch and Man Utd made an offer for me, I think it was the second offer that got accepted. It was child’s play. I never knew (I was watched). I had a really good season and played ahead of my age. They were obviously watching me and it was a pretty quick move. Within a month I was on my way to Manchester.

“I joined the U18 squad. They played Arsenal, Tottenham – I did that the year before. The standard of the Man Utd team was much better but it wasn’t a huge step up when it came to the teams they played against. I would say promotion came when you played with the reserves two years later. They had some of the older players who weren’t in the first team – that’s where you really saw the set change.”

McGinty would eventually move on Winning the FA Youth Cup at Old Trafford in 2011, with the Red Devils beating Sheffield United over two legs. A side that also included Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba triumphed effortlessly to remain the last United side to win the competition, although the club’s conveyor belt has produced Marcus Rashford and company since that win.

The Ayr United defender was part of Man Utd’s success at the FA Youth Cup in 2011

Lingard and Pogba have both had impressive careers at Old Trafford, with the latter coming and going with a hugely successful spell juventus sandwiched in between. Every member of the Youth Cup-winning squad had the right to believe in a future in Manchester.

Not everyone would get the chance, breaks and every young player needed a bit of luck to make it through. Sir Alex Ferguson had shown a willingness to support the club’s academy throughout his tenure. McGinty played at left-back, the position he started the final in. Patrice Evra was in his mid-30s and the youngster felt opportunities could arise, especially after being picked with the reserve players ahead of summer signing Alexander Büttner.

He said: “I didn’t play in the right position at left-back, which was comfortable for me at the time, but I always knew I would never be a left-back. It was strange winning that trophy and playing at left-back when I knew I wanted to play in the middle. You had Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and you think how i will play

“But as a left-back I probably would have had a good shot. They had Fabio, Evra was down. They bought Buttner from abroad but I played in front of him in reserve games so I thought ‘I’m third choice here. At that point you think I have a chance here, but obviously it shouldn’t be.

Sean McGinty wanted to oust Patrice Evra in the first team


John Peters)

Evra, Buttner and Fabio all left the team in 2014 – 12 months after McGinty left Old Trafford for Sheffield United. There he played alongside several modern First League Loyalists including Red Devils skipper Harry Maguire. The centre-back made transfers to Hull City and Old Trafford leicester City. Maguire was in the Sheffield side beaten by McGinty in the FA Youth Cup final just two years earlier.

But a year in the first-team had skyrocketed his development and his former team-mate confessed he was well above the League One level he was playing in at the time. McGinty said: “He had probably played for the first team a year before I arrived. He’s been brilliant this season – just youth but so dominant in the air. He defended set plays, attacked set plays, and won it all. Really comfortable on the ball, he was way too good for League One back then.”

McGinty later played for the likes of Rochdale and Aldershot Town before eventually settling at Torquay United. He went north in 2018, joining Partick Thistle and is now in his fifth year and third club in Scotland’s second tier, having joined Ayr United from Greenock Morton in the summer.

There is much talk of the comparable levels in terms of levels south and north of the border, but McGinty feels the minor leagues in Scotland add competitiveness. He said after the Torquay move: “It’s not a crazy promotion (from the National League). It’s probably the bottom end of League One, the top end of League Two. It’s a good standard because there are only 10 teams in the league there are no easy games. In the South, on the other hand, you could probably show up, have a bad game and still win one.”

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