Carolan was a prolific freetaker for Cavan. He helped Cavan reach the All-Ireland Under 21 Football Championship final in 1988, but they were defeated by Offaly. In 1989, Cavan had a great run in the National Football League claiming the Div. 2 title and reaching the semi final, only to lose narrowly to Dublin in Croke Park. In the same year he won a Dr. McKenna Cup medal when Cavan defeated Derry in the Final. He was a member of the Cavan squad that lost out in the Ulster Final in 1996. But, in 1997, Carolan scored 10pts to helped Cavan claim their only Ulster Senior Football Championship title in 28 years, beating Derry in Clones.
Carolan is 10th in the top all-time Ulster marksman, scoring 2-138 (144pts).