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With the Premier League on holiday, here's 12 events to keep you entertained this summer

You know it’s summer when Wimbledon is on our screens.

FOR SPORTS FANS, the summer can be an interminable couple of months as we count down the days until the new football and rugby seasons begin but there is still plenty of action to keep us entertained over the coming months.

Here’s 12 events which will ensure you won’t suffer withdrawal symptoms this summer.

1. The Irish Open (28-31 May)

Graeme McDowell Graeme McDowell is among a host of Major winners in Royal County Down this week Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

After a couple of years in the relative golfing wilderness, The Irish Open returns to the sporting conscience this week as some of the biggest names in the game arrive at Royal County Down for what promises to be a fascinating weekend.

Rory McIlroy is the headline act but with 7 Major winners, three of the world’s top 10 and 24 Ryder Cup players in the field, Ireland’s sole professional tournament has been elevated to a whole new level.

Organisers have already announced the weekend is sold-out with many believing this week marks the start of a new era for Irish golf. If you’re not lucky enough to witness it all first hand, RTÉ and Sky Sports have live television coverage on all four days.

2. Ireland v England (7 June)

Shane Long celebrates scoring a goal The last-gasp draw with Poland in March kept Ireland's Euro 2016 alive Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

We’ve reached a defining juncture in Martin O’Neill’s tenure as Ireland manager and the next few weeks are likely to have a significant bearing on whether he can guide the Boys in Green to Euro 2016 Qualification.

The visit of old enemies England to Dublin on 7 June is a friendly, if you can call it that, and the serious business takes place a week later when Scotland arrive at the Aviva for a do-or-die Group D qualifier.

Ireland currently lie fourth, two points behind Gordon Strachan’s side, and know anything less than three points on 13 June will put a major dent in any qualification hopes.

With two of the near neighbours visiting the capital in the space of a week and with the stakes as high as they are, there should be no shortage of atmosphere and tension surrounding these end of season fixtures.

3. GAA Football Championship

A general view of an empty Croke Park GAA HQ awaits Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

It goes without saying that the Championship is a staple part of the sporting summer and this year should be no different with counties well on the road to Croke Park.

As is always the case, there are so many sub plots to be played out over the course of the campaign as the quest to lift the Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy Cups intensify with each passing week.

Kerry and Dublin are the favourites in the football and with the draw the way it is, could meet in the final but that’s not to rule out last year’s semi-finalists Donegal or Mayo.

4. The European Games (12-28 June)

Katie Taylor Katie Taylor is Ireland's big medal hope for Baku Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

It’s difficult to gauge how much interest there will be surrounding the inaugural European Games, which takes place this June in Baku, but with just twelve months until Rio, there is plenty on the line for the athletes competing.

The two-week event starts on 12 June and consists of 16 Olympic sports with Katie Taylor among an Irish team of 63 athletes.

Athletics, boxing, cycling and swimming – the European Games has it all and you can watch every minute of it on Setanta Sports.

5. U20 World Championship (2-20 June)

Nick McCarthy, Gary Ringrose, Nigel Carolan and Billy Dardis There is just one uncapped player in Ireland's U20 squad Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The U20 World Championship is a breeding ground for the future stars of world rugby and Ireland head to Italy for the eight staging of the event hoping to improve on their fourth-placed finish they achieved last year.

Nigel Carolan’s side finished a disappointing fifth in this year’s Six Nations and have been paired in Pool C with Argentina, Scotland and New Zealand.

Ireland open their campaign against the Pumas in Parma on Tuesday 2 June at 3.30pm and you can catch all of their fixtures live on TG4.

6. Wimbledon (29 June-12 July)

Summer weather July 3rd You know it's summer when Wimbledon starts Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

When you see wooden rackets emerging from the attic and kids down the local park hitting a ball against the wall, you know Wimbledon is back.

The show piece event of the tennis calendar starts a week later in 2015 and will run from 29 June to 12 July and all eyes will be on home favourite Andy Murray as he attempts to take the crown off world number one Novak Djokovic.

7. McGregor v Aldo (11 July)

Sport - UFC - Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor Press Conference - Dublin Convention Centre McGregor v Aldo - it doesn't get better than that Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

This fight needs little introduction. The much anticipated bout between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo is the headline act of UFC 189 as the Dubliner aims to become Ireland’s first title-holder in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

If that clash isn’t enough for you, there’s a host of other exciting MMA bouts taking place this summer, all the details of which can be found here.

8. The Open (16-19 July)

Golf - 2016 Ryder Cup Captain Filers McIlroy and Clarke will be hoping for more Open success this year Source: David Davies

It’s a tournament which has brought about considerable success for the Irish in the last decade and all eyes will be on Rory McIlroy again when the golfing world descends on St Andrews.

Can he follow in the footsteps of a select few, including Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods, and retain the Claret Jug? You wouldn’t bet against it.

9. Ireland v Australia ODI (27 August)

William Porterfield before the game Ireland are hoping to record their first victory over a Full Member on home soil Source: James Crombie/INPHO

On the back of another impressive World Cup campaign, Ireland welcome world champions Australia to Belfast for a glamour One-Day International on 27 August.

After this month’s clash against England was washed-out, the visit of Australia takes on an added element of anticipation with new coach John Bracewell hoping to record his first big win in the job.

Tickets are still on sale for what is sure to be another great day for Irish cricket but if you can’t make it up North, the match is being shown live on Setanta.

10. World Cup warm-ups (August)

Luke Fitzgerald, Ian Madigan and Sean O'Brien Can Ireland live up to the hype and make an impression on the big stage? Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

For obvious reasons, this year’s World Cup is hotly anticipated on these shores and now that the Guinness Pro12 is reaching its conclusion, it will shortly be full steam ahead.

Before Joe Schmidt names his squad, Ireland will finalise their preparations with four warm-up fixtures during August and early September with Scotland and Wales both visiting Dublin.

It will be a last chance to see Ireland before they begin their World Cup campaign and an opportunity for those on the periphery to force their way into Schmidt’s plans.

11. GAA Hurling Championship

Limerick supporters The Championship season is always a colourful affair Source: Tommy Greally/INPHO

It could be argued the Hurling Championship is the most open in some time but, just like the football, it’s hard to look beyond Tipperary or Kilkenny. Either way, it’s set to be an absorbing summer of action.

Last weekend marked the start of the campaign and it didn’t disappoint with Clare and Limerick producing an absorbing encounter which included two red cards and plenty of talking points. Let’s hope it was just the start of a memorable summer.

12. SSE Airtricity League

The Pat's team during their warm up The League of Ireland is a great way to experience live football Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

We’re halfway through the League of Ireland season and if you need to get your footballing fix during the summer, why not head down to your local ground on a Friday evening?

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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