Shane Duffy and Harry Arter can aspire for more than just the plane ticket to Euro 2016

The duo are realistic contenders to start some matches at the tournament

Shane Duffy, Harry Arter, Netherlands, ireland

Ireland's Shane Duffy(r) and Harry Arter before the game ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

The dust has settled and we didn't beat the Dutch.

But if Martin O'Neill was panning for nuggets of gold at the Aviva Stadium last night, he would have found plenty that caught the light.

It goes without saying that Harry Arter was one of the standout performers in midfield for Ireland, bringing an energy and a buzz to the centre of the park.

With injury worries in the final weeks of the season at Bournemouth, there may have been worries that the 26-year-old could miss out on Euro 2016.

Fortunately that is not the case and he is 99% sure to be on the plane. But that could be the bare minimum with his suitability for a role in the diamond formation making him a real prospect to start some games in France if that is one of the systems employed.

But Shane Duffy is the other player who has really stated a case for himself in the most recent friendlies.

The Blackburn Rovers and former Everton centre-back has been unfortunate with injuries over the years, which has limited his international opportunities.

That includes the life-threatening injury the 24-year-old suffered in 2010 after a collision which lacerated his liver.

Ireland's Shane Long celebrates scoring their first goal ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Thus, the friendly win over Switzerland in March was only his second Ireland cap. Yet alongside Ciaran Clark that day, the centre-back put in a Man of the Match display at the heart of defence, setting up the early winning goal for his central defensive partner.

After that game, Ireland legend Ray Houghton said: "All Shane Duffy can do is, when he gets his chance, keep playing well. If he does that, he will lay down a mark to the manager why he should go to the Euros."

And last night against the Dutch, Duffy (the tallest player in the current squad - goalkeepers included) was again solid and dependable alongside John O'Shea at the heart of the defence.

Granted the Netherlands side which graced the Dublin turf are limited and a pale shadow of their most legendary teams, but Duffy and co mostly stood up to most of what was thrown at them in sporadic orange waves.

All expect the final five minutes of course, when Luuk De Jong was left totally unmarked to head in the equaliser for the Dutch, after ghosting into an acre of space between Duffy and O'Shea, who was occupied by another Dutch attacker.

It's the type of single lapse in concentration that can be punished by not just Europe's elite sides this summer but apart from that error of positioning and concentration, Duffy's overall performance means he is right in the battle to partner O'Shea in France with Clark and Richard Keogh, who appears to be leading that race.  

Certainly, he and Arter have been two of the positives from the last three friendly internationals.