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11 sporting trips to take in 2014

From the Ryder Cup to the Paris for St. Patrick’s Day, here are some great sports holidays to take this year.

Ireland v France

The rugby team will be in Paris on St. Patrick’s weekend to take on Les Bleus in the 2014 Six Nations, so there’s little reason not to get booking your flights. The game itself takes place on Saturday the 15th of March, but there is no excuse not to extend the visit for the entire weekend.

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Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Super Bowl XLVIII

That’s Super Bowl 48 to those of us illiterate in Roman numerals. The game itself takes place at the 70,500-capacity MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, New York and will be the first cold weather Super Bowl in some time. Always a wonderous spectacle.

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Paul Kazdan/AP/Press Association Images

FIFA World Cup

Ireland may not be there, but the World Cup will still be a festival of football in Brazil. With 32 teams to chose from in eight different groups, and a host country that adores the game, the 2014 version of football’s leading competition would be an exciting trip. The tournament lasts from the 12th of June until the 13th of July.

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Silvia Izquierdo/AP/Press Association Images

Cheltenham

The famous horse racing festival takes place from the 11th to the 14th of March, and it’s about much more than just taking on the bookies. The atmosphere, food and drink are all of the highest quality. The Gold Cup happens on the Friday, and is usually unmissable.

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©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ryder Cup

Golf’s most exciting team tournament is back on European soil this year, with only a short trip to Scotland required for Irish supporters. The PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles Hotel plays host as Irishman Paul McGinley captains the European defence against Tom Watson’s USA on the 26th-28th of September.

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©INPHO/Getty Images

Ireland v England

Joe Schmidt’s side take on the old enemy in the 2014 Six Nations on the 22nd of February at Twickenham in London. Ireland were beaten 12-6 in this fixture in Dublin last year, so revenge is on the cards. This trip to the English capital is always a good one as the ex-pats and locals welcome the Irish influx. A potentially decisive game too.

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©INPHO/Billy Stickland

El Clásico

An excuse to travel to Spain is always welcome, so why not head over to the next installment of Barcelona and Real’s bitter rivalry? The Madrid club host the Catalans at the Bernabéu on the 23rd of March. It’s a league clash on a Sunday, but it’s still guaranteed to be as special as ever.

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Manu Fernandez/AP/Press Association Images

Champions League Final

The Estádio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal is the venue for this year’s European finale and although we can’t be certain who’s going to be involved, it should be as thrilling a spectacle as ever. Benfica’s 65,600-capacity stadium is a wonderful setting for a match scheduled for the 24th of May.

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John Walton/EMPICS Sport

Heineken Cup Final

If you haven’t been to the showpiece event of European club rugby yet, there is no place better to start than Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium. The 74,500-seater has hosted many memorable encounters down through the years and this season’s final on the 24th of May is likely to be no different. Get your tickets early and hope at least one Irish team makes it.

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David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Women’s Rugby World Cup

Our Grand Slam winning women have been drawn in a group alongside Kazakhstan, the US and New Zealand, but will have ambitions of progressing to the business end of the tournament. Taking place from the 1st to the 17th of August in France, the group stages are set in Marcoussis [around 25km from Paris], with the final set for the Stade Jean-Bouin in the capital.

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Jacques Brinon/AP/Press Association Images

FIBA Basketball World Cup

Something a bit different, but with six Spanish cities hosting the event from August 30th until September the 14th, here’s a good excuse to take a delayed summer holiday. Madrid is the main venue, but Bilbao, Barcelona, Seville, Granada and Las Palmas are also involved, so there’s plenty of scope to tie in other activities.

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Sasa Despot/Zurnal24/PIXSELL/Pixsell/Press Association Images

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Murray Kinsella

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