The Leitrim featherweight had won four Irish titles but was yet to represent her country internationally.
The next 12 months have been something special for Rooney, with last night’s action in Buenos Aires the crowning moment.
A silver at the European Youths, her first tournament with Ireland, followed by a trip to the World Youths all led to Argentina and the Youth Olympics here Rooney claimed a brilliant bronze last night with a dominant win over New Zealand’s Te Shelford-Edmonds.
“I’m just absolutely over the moon, it still hasn’t fully sunken in, it’s a dream come true,” Rooney said after the win.
“I can’t believe it. If you told me this last year, I never even dreamed that I’d be on the Youth Olympic team, let alone bringing home a bronze medal.”
The Manorhamilton 17-year-old had just beaten Shelford-Edmonds in a bronze medal box-off – a unique aspect of the Youth Olympics.
Usually both losing semi-finalists at a tournament are awarded with bronze but Rooney had to pick herself up and regroup in just 24 hours.
In the semis the Glenade fighter had lost another split decision to Thailand’s eventual gold medallist Panpatchara Somnuek – having been beaten by the same opponent in the opening round of the World Youths during the summer.
However, rather than be demoralised, Rooney was boosted by the whole ordeal.
The Connacht boxer outlined how “I was heartbroken yesterday after losing in the semi to Thailand but she’s a very strong girl. But I suppose it was a positive reminder that I’m up there with the best in the world.”
“It made me more motivated than anything to come back and win the bronze.”
“I think a lot of boxing is mental strength and having the ability to stay focused before your fight and not let the nerves get the best of you.”
In the fight itself, Rooney dominated her Kiwi opponent, almost forcing a stoppage.
“I felt comfortable,” she admitted.
“Going into the fight I was so hungry and I I said it yesterday, I wasn’t coming home without a medal.”
“I just went in and listened to what Dmitry [Dimtruk] was telling me to do, stepping off with hooks and keeping our distance with the jab.”