Cadogan, 22, has been entrusted with the task of filling the giant boots left by Cork’s legendary and recently retired full-back O’Sullivan.
It’s a case of so far, so good with Cadogan yesterday confirmed as the Opel GPA Hurler of the Month for May following his Munster SHC performance against Tipperary.
Cork lost that game but the emergence of Cadogan, a talented dual player, has at least given the county hope of overcoming the departure of the three-time All-Ireland winner O’Sullivan.
Cadogan’s hopes of emulating the Cloyne colossus were boosted by several encouraging phone calls from O’Sullivan, one on the eve of the Tipperary game.
“Diarmuid was a fantastic full-back and was always very encouraging to any of the youngsters that came on the panel,” said Cadogan.
“He spoke to me a couple of times during the year, a couple of words here and there, what I should and shouldn’t be doing and it’s always great to have that type of encouragement. He contacted me before the Tipp game just to say best of luck and to wish me all the best and hope it goes well.”
Asked if he was surprised to see O’Sullivan retire at just 30, Cadogan added: “It was his decision. I wasn’t 100% sure what he was going to do. I suppose he felt the time was right and fair play to him.”
The retirement of veteran O’Sullivan hasn’t stopped claims from some quarters that Cork are an ageing team with Donal Óg Cusack, Sean Óg O hAilpin and Timmy McCarthy all members of the 1999 All-Ireland winning side.
“I suppose that’s people’s opinion but look at the second-half (performance against Tipperary), would people have said they’re an ageing team then? I don’t think so,” retorted Cadogan.
“I think they would have said Cork were back to their best and I can’t see any reason why they would be an ageing team. There’s a lot of youth after being brought in and an awful lot of youth on the bench as well.”
Cadogan is a dual player with his club and was a key member of the Cork football team that won the All-Ireland U21 title two years ago. But while Cork hurling manager Denis Walsh was a similar defensive dual star in his own day, Cadogan is unlikely to juggle both codes at the top level.
“It’s always a thought but at the end of the day you really have to choose between one and the other, which one you prefer, and I chose the hurling, no regrets,” he said.