DARREN DUNNING might have emulated Pep Guardiola by masterminding a York Minster Engineering League treble, but the Old Malton St Mary’s player-manager has no designs on climbing up the coaching ladder.

The ex-York City midfielder helped St Mary’s secure this season’s premier division title by a massive 15 points, before lifting both the York FA Senior and League Senior Cups, while Guardiola’s Manchester City were simultaneously creating history by completing a hat-trick of domestic triumphs.

Dunning, who spent three seasons with the Minstermen between 2003 and 2006, has been in charge of the FitzWilliam Sports Field outfit for eight seasons after retiring from the semi-professional game following a cruciate knee ligament injury on duty for Gainsborough Trinity.

During that time, St Mary’s have finished league champions on four occasions, including in his maiden season at the helm - 2011/12.

But, despite such local-level success, Dunning does not feel he has the time to dedicate to a higher-league managerial job, admitting that he already finds it a struggle to balance his football duties with a plumbing business, domestic life and passion for golf.

Now 38, he constantly reassesses his position at St Mary’s every summer but confesses that the lure of a sport he has enjoyed since growing up as a child in Ryedale and securing a place at then Premier League club Blackburn Rovers’ academy, means he is likely to be back for more when preparations start for the 2019/20 season.

“I don’t really want to go any higher in coaching and management, because you can’t do everything,” Dunning explained. “I run my own company, enjoy playing golf and have to fit some time in for the missus as well!

“I’ve not decided what I’m doing next season. I’ve been retiring for the last five years, but I always end up going back.

“I think I’ll still be involved in some capacity, but I don’t know whether it will be just managing and giving up playing, or the other way around. It’s hard to give up playing, though, when it’s something you’ve done for so long.”

It’s also more difficult to walk away from a winning team, with Dunning pointing out that this term’s triple triumph was particularly pleasing after ending 2017/18 as the Minster Engineering League’s nearly men.

“You set off every year wanting to do as well as you can in every competition, but it’s only towards the end of the season that you start thinking about having a chance of winning the lot,” the 5ft 6in playmaker pointed out. “We didn’t expect to do it, but it’s always nice when it happens, especially as we didn’t win anything last season.

“We went so close by finishing second in the league and losing a cup final, so it’s nice to go from being empty-handed to filling the cabinet.”

Surprisingly, the league was a virtual procession for St Mary’s during a second half of the campaign when old rivals such as Wigginton Grasshoppers, Huntington Rovers and Dunnington failed to mount a challenge, while Church Fenton finished distant runners-up as the championship was wrapped up by March.

On that achievement, Dunning reasoned: “It helped that the teams around us fell away really. Wigginton looked the team to beat having won the title for the last two years, but they were missing some important players.

“Huntington also melted away like a chocolate fireguard after Christmas, having won their first eight games. Their confidence seemed to go after losing a couple of matches and, while Church Fenton are a good team, they were lots of games behind and we’ve been in that position before when you’re under a lot of pressure to keep winning to close the gap and it proves too much.”

Despite their 2018/19 dominance, though, Dunning isn’t expecting the treble winners and five-time champions to have it all their own way again as they hope to defend the league title for a first time.

“One or two teams will be stronger,” he declared. “I expect Wigginton to be better and I’ve heard some of the Church Fenton players are going to Tadcaster Magnets, which will make them stronger.”

Church Fenton were seen off 3-1 in the York FA Senior Cup final before promoted first-division runners-up Easingwold Town were beaten by the same scoreline during the final of the League Senior Cup.

On the latter’s chance of making an impression in the top tier, Dunning added: “I think they can definitely hold their own.

“They’re a really young team, who are energetic and fit, which they will need to be to get their results in the premier division.”

While Dunning is in the twilight of his career, meanwhile, the scoresheet from St Mary’s treble-clinching cup victory over Easingwold demonstrated how the squad is evolving in an attempt to sustain the club’s success.

Left-back Danny Fogg bagged a brace having not featured in the team before November, while leading marksman Jack Simpson grabbed his 29th goal of the campaign having moved from Redcar Athletic last summer at the age of 19.

No Minster Engineering League side can boast a higher level of consistency than St Mary’s in recent times, having never finished out of the top three during the last dozen campaigns and Dunning said: “The older lads, like myself and my brother, can’t keep playing for ever, so we have to keep bringing one or two young lads in to try and keep everything going.

“It’s hard to do that at local level and you see a lot of clubs go through phases of success before falling away when players move on or get older. We’ve managed to keep it going and the club are very proud of that 12-year record.

“Jack Simpson has come in and been immense. He knows where the net is, and he’s as quick and as fit as a greyhound.

“He listens as well and, if he keeps doing that, he’s somebody who can play at a higher level without a shadow of doubt. He lives at Ampleforth and wasn’t in the Redcar manager’s plans, so we took an opportunity to get him in for pre-season and convinced him to play for us.

“Danny Fogg didn’t figure earlier in the season but, then, he got his act together and his fitness levels up by losing a bit of weight and, since he’s been back in the team, he’s not looked back and done really, well. He’s a really, steady left back, who is normally a 6 or 7/10 every week.”

While St Mary’s rattled in 101 league goals, Fogg was a member of a back four who, perhaps more impressively, only conceded 19 times in 28 contests.

That was 24 fewer than the number shipped by any other club in the top-flight and a proud Dunning argued the credit for that record should be shared throughout the team.

“It’s been a collective thing and I’m a big believer in your defending starting from the attackers,” he argued. “We pride ourselves on keeping things tight in all areas of the pitch because that can be the difference in the close matches, as we’ll always get opportunities to score.”